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 The bumper buy-out clause of $550 million is to repel rival offers for the player. Matias Grez, CNN, "Barcelona signs 20-year-old and then gives him $550 million price tag," 31 Jan. 2020 Several protesters were wounded amid ongoing clashes in Baghdad’s central Khilani Square where security forces also used pellet rifles to repel demonstrators, an Associated Press photographer witnessed. Washington Post, "Iraq’s president issues deadline to choose next PM," 29 Jan. 2020 On top of that, look for a cleaner with a protectant to repel soil and fingerprints like Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances and Sinks," 21 Jan. 2020 Miller received the Navy Cross for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor, helping move wounded soldiers to safety and manning a machine gun to repel Japanese planes. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor," 21 Jan. 2020 Clad in huge metal suits designed to repel the crushing pressure of the Mariana Trench, the group decides to walk along the ocean floor to reach another facility in an effort to reach the surface. Anne Cohen,, "Kristen Stewart Says She “Barely Survived” Making Her Latest Horror Movie," 10 Jan. 2020 This product is proven to repel charging bears and break off bear attacks, but doesn’t help anyone who isn’t carrying it. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "15 Everyday Survival Supplies You Should Buy Online," 27 Nov. 2019 The Iraqi Kurds have remained steadfast in their efforts to repel ISIS attacks in Iraq. Alon Ben-meir, National Review, "The Yazidis’ Crisis Continues to Unfold — Ending It Is a Moral Imperative," 25 Nov. 2019 Federer was left shaking his head at the Serb’s go-for-broke service return that repelled Federer’s first match point. oregonlive, "Roger Federer’s career Grand Slam record is in danger as rivals make determined push: 2020 Australian Open," 19 Jan. 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

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Repel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 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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