repel

verb
re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel \
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

Cowhide corners lend extra durability and a fabric treatment helps the bag repel water and dirt. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "In Praise of the Small-Parts Bag," 15 Nov. 2018 The attack was successfully repelled—Russian forces were able to shoot down seven of the drones with antiaircraft missiles and were able to commandeer six more toward a safe landing. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire Russian Military Will Be Trained in Anti-Drone Tactics," 16 Nov. 2018 Afghan forces repelled the initial assault and in recent days have struggled to flush the insurgents out of residential areas where they are holed up. Rahim Faiez And Amir Shah, Fox News, "Afghan officials: Taliban attack in north kills 30 troops," 15 Aug. 2018 And on the immigration debate, House Republican leaders repelled an effort by moderate party members to force a vote on bipartisan measures to protect young immigrants because the president opposed them. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Republicans Absorb New Lesson: Cross President Trump at Their Peril," 13 June 2018 Bear spray There are some things even a good multitool can’t do, like repel bears. Brent Rose, The Verge, "How to build a camera kit for adventure photography," 20 Nov. 2018 Without these negative charges, the gel no longer repels itself on a molecular level and begins to contract. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Honey, I Shrunk Everything: MIT Scientists Can Shrink Objects to the Nanoscale," 18 Dec. 2018 The caravan of mostly would-be asylum seekers traveling north from Honduras through Mexico has become a focus of the Trump administration, and the president has threatened to use military force to repel them. Alicia A. Caldwell, WSJ, "Mattis Expected to Send 800 U.S. Troops to Mexican Border," 25 Oct. 2018 In Geneva, the U.N. human rights office said Israel has repeatedly violated international norms by using deadly live fire to repel protesters. Washington Post, "As Gaza death toll rises, Israeli tactics face scrutiny," 16 May 2018

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, from Middle French repeller, from Latin repellere, from re- + pellere to drive — more at felt

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Statistics for repel

Last Updated

20 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for repel

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

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More Definitions for repel

repel

verb

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

repel

verb
re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with repel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for repel

Spanish Central: Translation of repel

Nglish: Translation of repel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on repel

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