verb re·pel \ ri-ˈpel \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of repel

repelled; repelling
1 a : to drive back : repulse
b : to fight against : resist
2 : turn away, reject
  • repelled the insinuation
3 a : 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
: to cause aversion



Examples of repel in a Sentence

  1. a fabric that repels water

  2. Their superior forces repelled the invasion.

  3. Two positive electrical charges repel each other.

  4. Magnets can both repel and attract one another.

Recent Examples of repel from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology of repel

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

REPEL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of repel for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


verb re·pel \ ri-ˈpel \

Definition of repel for Students

repelled; repelling
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 : 2disgust
  • The sight repelled everyone.

Word Root of repel

The Latin word pellere, meaning “to cause to move” or “to drive,” gives us the root pel. Words from the Latin pellere have something to do with driving or causing something to move. To propel is to drive forward. To compel is to drive someone to do something. To expel is to drive out. To repel is to drive back or away.

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having an air of easy unconcern

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