Definition of repel
3 a : to drive away : discourage <foul words and frowns must not repel a lover — 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
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.
Did You Know?
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
First Known Use: 15th century
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
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.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up repel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).