force

1 of 2

noun

1
a(1)
: strength or energy exerted or brought to bear : cause of motion or change : active power
the forces of nature
the motivating force in her life
(2)
capitalized
used with a number to indicate the strength of the wind according to the Beaufort scale
a Force 10 hurricane
b
: moral or mental strength
I was impressed by the force of his character.
c
: capacity to persuade or convince
the force of the argument
2
a
: military strength
b(1)
: a body (as of troops or ships) assigned to a military purpose
a force of 20,000 soldiers
(2)
forces plural : the whole military strength (as of a nation)
c
: a body of persons or things available for a particular end
a labor force
the missile force
d
: an individual or group having the power of effective action
join forces to prevent violence
a force in politics
e
often capitalized : police force
usually used with the
After his military service, he joined the force.
3
: violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing
Those who do not respond to kindness must yield to force.
4
a
: an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects
b
: any of the natural influences (such as electromagnetism (see electromagnetism sense 2a), gravity, the strong force, and the weak force) that exist especially between particles and determine the structure of the universe
5
: the quality of conveying impressions intensely in writing or speech
stated the objectives with force
6
baseball : force-out
forceless adjective

force

2 of 2

verb

forced; forcing

transitive verb

1
: to do violence to
especially : rape
2
: to compel by physical, moral, or intellectual means
3
: to make or cause especially through natural or logical necessity
forced to admit my error
the last minute goal forced overtime
4
a
: to press, drive, pass, or effect against resistance or inertia
force your way through
b
: to impose or thrust urgently, importunately, or inexorably
force unwanted attentions on a coworker
5
: to achieve or win by strength in struggle or violence: such as
a
: to win one's way into
force a castle
forced the mountain passes
b
: to break open or through
force a lock
6
a
: to raise or accelerate to the utmost
forcing the pace
b
: to produce only with unnatural or unwilling effort
forced a smile
c
: to wrench, strain, or use (language) with marked unnaturalness and lack of ease
7
a
: to hasten the rate of progress or growth of
b
: to bring (plants) to maturity out of the normal season
forcing lilies for Easter
8
: to induce (a particular bid or play by another player) in a card game by some conventional act, play, bid, or response
9
a
: to cause (a runner in baseball) to be put out on a force-out
b
: to cause (a run) to be scored in baseball by giving a base on balls when the bases are full
forcer noun
Phrases
in force
1
: in great numbers
picnickers were out in force
2
: valid, operative
the ban remains in force
force one's hand
: to cause one to act precipitously : force one to reveal one's purpose or intention
Choose the Right Synonym for force

Noun

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort.

power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon.

the awesome power of flowing water

force implies the actual effective exercise of power.

used enough force to push the door open

energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work.

a worker with boundless energy

strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack.

use weight training to build your strength

might implies great or overwhelming power or strength.

the belief that might makes right

Verb

force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield.

force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress.

forced to flee for their lives

compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force.

compelled to admit my mistake

coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure.

coerced into signing over the rights

constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice.

constrained by conscience

oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty.

felt obliged to go

Example Sentences

Noun The front of the car took the full force of the collision. instruments used to measure the force of the wind The police were accused of using excessive force when they made the arrest. We discourage the use of force. He used brute force to open the door. I was impressed by the force of her personality. Verb They forced us to work long hours without pay. The flooding forced hundreds of residents to flee their homes. After seeing the evidence, I was forced to admit my error. I am forced to conclude that more funding will be necessary. The pilot was forced to land when one of the plane's engines caught fire. The scandal forced his resignation. Lack of time may eventually force a compromise. They are trying to force a vote on this issue. The runner was forced out of bounds. Their car was forced off the road. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Gale-force winds will also make for hazardous seas for mariners and beach goers. Jack Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Nov. 2022 Just last year, this West Coast bomb cyclone brought hurricane-force winds, 20-foot seas, rain and snow to a huge chunk of the West. Jennifer Gray, CNN, 14 Nov. 2022 Tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 450 miles from the center in some directions as Nicole turned northward over central Florida. CBS News, 11 Nov. 2022 Tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 450 miles from the center in some directions as Nicole turned northward over central Florida. Arkansas Online, 11 Nov. 2022 Tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 450 miles from the center in some directions as Nicole turned northward over central Florida. Mike Schneider, Freida Frisaro, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Nov. 2022 Tropical storm force winds extended as far as 450 miles (720 kilometers) from the center in some directions. DÁnica Coto, BostonGlobe.com, 10 Nov. 2022 Nicole is a large storm, with tropical-storm-force winds extending as much as 450 miles from the center, Mr. Brennan said. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2022 Nicole's tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 380 miles from its center, according to NHC forecasters. Ashley R. Williams, USA TODAY, 9 Nov. 2022
Verb
Republicans have accused investors of trying to force companies to follow a liberal agenda at the expense of a pursuit of profit. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2022 Instead of trying to force someone out with quiet firing, leaders who have clear expectations eliminate surprises and give employees a chance to either improve or determine that this isn’t the right role or company for them. Joe Galvin, Quartz, 21 Nov. 2022 Over the months, Russia systematically sought to tighten its grip, imposing a pro-Russia school curriculum and trying to force people to discard their Ukrainian passports for Russian ones and pay for goods and services in rubles. Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 But age comes for us all, and the now 37-year-old Ronaldo was mortified to see United fall out of his favorite competition, UEFA’s Champions League, and has been reportedly and even visibly trying to force his way out ever since. Nick Lichtenberg, Fortune, 18 Nov. 2022 After leaving the House speaker’s suite, Williams scuffled with police officers in the building’s Rotunda, trying to force her way past a security line, Gordon told the jury. Paul Duggan, Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2022 When matchups dictate that any one of more of them should be the focal point of the offense for the evening, Carlisle won't be trying to force anyone to make sure Turner gets touches and points. Dustin Dopirak, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Nov. 2022 And trying to force fun on command can ruin the point, which is to do something pointless. Faith Hill, The Atlantic, 28 Oct. 2022 Thorne found tight end Daniel Barker for 8 yards to the 16 on third and 5 and then hit Maliq Carr for 72 yards to the UW 12.Torchio missed a tackle near midfield trying to force a fumble and Hallman missed tackle at the UW 25. Jeff Potrykus, Journal Sentinel, 15 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'force.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *fortia, from Latin fortis strong

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of force was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near force

Cite this Entry

“Force.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/force. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

force 1 of 2

noun

ˈfō(ə)rs How to pronounce force (audio)
ˈfȯ(ə)rs
1
a
: strength or energy put forth : active power
forces of nature
b
: capacity to persuade or convince
the force of this argument
c
: the state of existing and being enforced : effect
that law is still in force
2
: a group of persons trained and available for action
a police force
the nation's labor force
3
: violence or power used on a person or thing
open a door by force
4
: an influence (as a push or pull) that tends to produce a change in the speed or direction of motion of something
the force of gravity
forceless adjective

force

2 of 2

verb

forced; forcing
1
: to make (as a person) do something
forced them to work
2
a
: to get or make by using force
forced their way into the room
b
: to break open or through
force a lock
3
: to produce with effort
forced a weak smile
4
: to speed up the development of
force flowers
forcer noun

Medical Definition

: an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects

forcé

2 of 2

Legal Definition

force 1 of 2

noun

1
: a cause of motion, activity, or change
intervening force
: a force that acts after another's negligent act or omission has occurred and that causes injury to another : intervening cause at cause
irresistible force
: an unforeseeable event especially that prevents performance of an obligation under a contract : force majeure
2
: a body of persons available for a particular end
the labor force
specifically : police force
usually used with the
3
: violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing
constructive force
: the use of threats or intimidation for the purpose of gaining control over or preventing resistance from another
deadly force
: force that is intended to cause or that carries a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury compare nondeadly force in this entry

Note: As a general rule, deadly force may be used without incurring criminal or tort liability when one reasonably believes that one's life or safety is in danger. In some cases, a person's unreasonable belief in the need for deadly force has been used to justify reducing a charge of murder to voluntary manslaughter. Additionally, a police officer is generally justified in using deadly force to prevent the escape of a suspect who threatens the officer or who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a violent crime.

lawful force
: force that is considered justified under the law and does not create criminal or tort liability compare unlawful force in this entry
moderate force \ ˈmä-​də-​rət-​ \
: nondeadly force in this entry
nondeadly force
: force that is intended to cause minor bodily injury
also : a threat (as by the brandishing of a gun) to use deadly force

called also moderate force

compare deadly force in this entry
reasonable force
: Lawful force that is reasonably necessary to accomplish a particular end (as preventing theft of one's property)
unlawful force
: force that is not justified under the law and therefore is considered a tort or crime or both compare lawful force in this entry
in force
: valid and operative
a life insurance policy in force

force

2 of 2

transitive verb

forced; forcing
1
a
: to compel by physical means often against resistance
forced him into the car
b
: to break open or through
forced the door
see also forcible entry
2
: to impose or require by law see also elective share, forced heir at heir, forced sale at sale

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