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 Fire department rescuers were able to repel into the tube and found the victim 22 feet below the surface, police said. David K. Li, NBC News, "Elderly man in Hawaii killed after falling into 'lava tube' on his property," 7 Nov. 2019 The garlic emoji is finally here, just in time to repel all of the local vampires on Halloween. Morgan Raum,, "Calling All Waffle Lovers! Apple Released a Whole New Batch of Food Emojis—See What Made the Cut," 30 Oct. 2019 The Wales international showed good anticipation to deny Jesus, while a flicked stop to repel Bernardo Silva was probably even better., "Crystal Palace 0-2 Man City: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Quick Double Earns Citizens Win in London," 19 Oct. 2019 What happens when a charismatic schizophrenic with a penchant for violence decides to repel consumer capitalism? Emily J. Sullivan, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Cast of 'Fight Club,' Then and Now," 15 Oct. 2019 They are known for their ability to repel grease and water. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "While Ohio analyzes state’s water for harmful chemicals, Cleveland already knows what’s in its supply -- nothing," 2 Oct. 2019 The British military is unable to repel the alien forces. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "BBC drops first trailer for new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds," 30 Sep. 2019 Sanders also ponders the question of why gardeners are continually beseeched by websites to use lava rocks, wormwood tea, and quackgrass cakes to repel slugs when a simple dose of iron phosphate will do the job quickly and safely. Steve Smith,, "’Gardening Is Murder’ Talk On Sept. 12," 26 Aug. 2019 The damage is common and significant enough that every new tree planted in a neighborhood with deer needs to be protected with a sturdy fence structure to repel the deer for several years until the tree develops corky bark. Calvin Finch,, "How to deal with the garden damage from the dang deer," 9 Aug. 2019

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

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for repel

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

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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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a calculated move

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