repel

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The disks are getting pulled into the neutron star's gravity, which the magnetic columns will repel. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Stumped by Weird Green Blobs," 6 Sep. 2019 On Thursday, as Democratic presidential hopefuls filed into the city for the debate, 11 of the protesters repelled from the busy Fred Hartman Bridge, blocking the thoroughfare of the Houston Ship Channel. Dylan Mcguinness, Houston Chronicle, "Nearly two dozen due in court for Greenpeace protest that shut down Houston Ship Channel on day of Democratic debate," 14 Sep. 2019 Helping to make crucial tackles and repelling everything in the air, Koulibaly has arguably been the tournament's top defender. SI.com, "Africa Cup of Nations: 6 Standout Stars Who Deserve a Move to the Premier League," 15 July 2019 Wheat plants' leaves repel water, which creates the perfect conditions for dew droplets to catapult off the leaves—taking pathogenic spores for the ride. Christopher Intagliata, Scientific American, "Wheat Plants "Sneeze" And Spread Disease," 25 June 2019 The Army of Islam rebel group that controls the city of Douma said its fighters repelled all government attacks that began Friday, adding that 17 Syrian soldiers were killed. Fox News, "Violence claims more lives in Syrian capital and suburbs," 7 Apr. 2018 To make this structured liquid, Helms and his collaborators first coated the microscope slide in a pattern of a water-repelling plastic, which determines the shape of the canal. Wired, "Unusual Fluids Flip, Twirl, and Redefine How Liquids Work," 9 Sep. 2019 My brother, Don, had raved for days about his waterproof shoes to anyone who would listen—even pouring water on them to showcase their water-repelling capabilities. Dan Q. Dao, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Waterproof Shoes You Can Wear for an Entire Trip," 2 Aug. 2019 People in the village that was attacked had repelled a militant assault two weeks earlier, said Mohammed Bulama, council chairman of the Nganzai area in Borno state. Ibrahim Sawab, BostonGlobe.com, "Suspected Boko Haram attack on funeral in Nigeria leaves at least 65 dead," 29 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about repel

Statistics for repel

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for repel

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up repel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to fake an opponent out of position

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!