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[im-pel] /ɪmˈpɛl/
verb (used with object), impelled, impelling.
to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action.
to drive or cause to move onward; propel; impart motion to.
Origin of impel
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English impellen < Latin impellere to strike against, set in motion (transitive), equivalent to im- im-1 + pellere to strike, move (something); akin to pulse1
Related forms
unimpelled, adjective
Can be confused
compel, impel (see synonym study at compel)
1. actuate.
1. restrain.
Synonym Study
1. See compel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impelled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had not the least idea why he had been impelled to go home.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • impelled by fear, he was hardly conscious of his words; hardly responsible for them.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • They held their course as if they were impelled and driven by its fury.

  • Then, impelled by an instinctive sense of justice, she resumed.

  • Believe me, I would not utter a word or write a line if I were not impelled to it.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • A new idea had just impelled Claude onward through the crowd.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • An invincible revolt, the anger of a wife buffeted at home, impelled her forward.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • This was so noticeable that Laban Keeler was impelled to speak of it.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for impelled


verb (transitive) -pels, -pelling, -pelled
to urge or force (a person) to an action; constrain or motivate
to push, drive, or force into motion
Derived Forms
impellent, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin impellere to push against, drive forward, from im- (in) + pellere to drive, push, strike
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for impelled



early 15c., from Latin impellere "to push, strike against, drive forward, urge on," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + pellere "to push, drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Related: Impelled; impelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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