re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel How to pronounce repel (audio) \
repelled; repelling

Definition of repel

transitive verb

1a : to drive back : repulse
b : to fight against : resist
2 : turn away, reject repelled the insinuation
3a : to drive away : discourage foul words and frowns must not repel a lover— William Shakespeare
b : to be incapable of adhering to, mixing with, taking up, or holding
c : to force away or apart or tend to do so by mutual action at a distance
4 : to cause aversion in : disgust

intransitive verb

: to cause aversion

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Other Words from repel

repeller noun

When to Use Repel

Since re- can mean not just "again" but also "back", repel means "drive back". Repel has two common adjective forms; thus, a repellent or repulsive odor may drive us into the other room. Its main noun form is repulsion. Magnets exhibit both attraction and repulsion, and the goal of an armed defense is the repulsion of an enemy; but we generally use repulsion to mean "strong dislike". In recent years, repulse has been increasingly used as a synonym for repel ("That guy repulses me").

Examples of repel in a Sentence

a fabric that repels water Their superior forces repelled the invasion. Two positive electrical charges repel each other. Magnets can both repel and attract one another.
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Recent Examples on the Web For keeping the sand away at the beach: Dock & Bay Lightweight Beach Towel Like the Tesalate towel, this Dock & Bay claims to wick off moisture and repel sand. Sara Hendricks, USA TODAY, "We tested 10 popular beach towels to find our favorite for summer," 13 July 2020 To prevent such a scenario, Egypt is exploring options including airstrikes to support General Haftar’s forces, raising a Libyan tribal army, and limited ground incursions in order to repel any Turkish-GNA advance, Arab official sources say. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "War in Libya? Why two US allies are on a collision course.," 10 July 2020 In 1943, the Battle of Kursk began during World War II; in the weeks that followed, the Soviets were able to repeatedly repel the Germans, who eventually withdrew in defeat., "This day in history," 4 July 2020 More tips For an insect repellent product to be registered with the EPA, the company that developed the product has to show the EPA that the product can repel insects and is safe to use. Jordan Nutting, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Heading outside this summer? Here's what you need to know about bug repellents," 27 June 2020 In 1950, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on member nations to help South Korea repel an invasion from the North., "This day in history," 27 June 2020 By developing materials that kill or repel viruses, researchers hope to make masks and other protective gear safer to remove and more effective against all viruses. Rachel Crowell, Scientific American, "Electrified Fabric Could Zap the Coronavirus on Masks and Clothing," 24 June 2020 Officers inside the Capitol used pepper spray to repel protesters who were trying to break into the historic center of state government, Madison police said. Scott Bauer, Anchorage Daily News, "Crowds in Wisconsin tear down statues, attack state senator," 24 June 2020 Pepper spray was used to repel those trying to gain entry. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "An arrest, an assaulted senator and a statue in a lake: How the Madison protests unfolded," 24 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'repel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of repel

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for repel

Middle English repellen, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French repeller, borrowed from Latin repellere "to push away, drive back, fend off," from re- re- + pellere "to beat against, push, strike, rouse" — more at pulse entry 1

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Time Traveler for repel

Time Traveler

The first known use of repel was in the 15th century

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Statistics for repel

Last Updated

21 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Repel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for repel


How to pronounce repel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of repel

: to keep (something) out or away
: to force (an enemy, attacker, etc.) to stop an attack and turn away
physics : to force (something) to move away or apart


re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel How to pronounce repel (audio) \
repelled; repelling

Kids Definition of repel

1 : to drive back We tried to repel the enemy.
2 : to push away Two magnets can repel each other.
3 : to keep out : resist The cloth is treated to repel water.
4 : disgust entry 2 The sight repelled everyone.

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More from Merriam-Webster on repel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for repel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with repel

Spanish Central: Translation of repel

Nglish: Translation of repel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repel for Arabic Speakers

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