verb (used with object), co·erced, co·erc·ing.

to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, especially without regard for individual desire or volition: They coerced him into signing the document.
to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; exact: to coerce obedience.
to dominate or control, especially by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.: The state is based on successfully coercing the individual.

Origin of coerce

1425–75; late Middle English < Latin coercēre to hold in, restrain, equivalent to co- co- + -ercēre, combining form of arcēre to keep in, keep away, akin to arca ark
Related formsco·erc·er, nounco·er·ci·ble, adjectivenon·co·er·ci·ble, adjectiveun·co·erced, adjective
Can be confusedcoerce compel constrain force oblige Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for coerce

Contemporary Examples of coerce

Historical Examples of coerce

  • With such a backing, he could coerce ministries at will, and remake the politics of England.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • But he made a great mistake if he thought that he could coerce Flavia in that way.

    The Wild Geese

    Stanley John Weyman

  • "Most certainly, doctor; I'd never seek to coerce you," said Cashel, smiling.

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • Cowper had let that wife of his coerce him into swearing my life away.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • The slightest attempt to fight or coerce them will bring them up "in arms" in a moment.

British Dictionary definitions for coerce



(tr) to compel or restrain by force or authority without regard to individual wishes or desires
Derived Formscoercer, nouncoercible, adjective

Word Origin for coerce

C17: from Latin coercēre to confine, restrain, from co- together + arcēre to enclose
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

Word Origin and History for coerce

mid-15c., cohercen, from Middle French cohercer, from Latin coercere "to control, restrain, shut up together," from com- "together" (see co-) + arcere "to enclose, confine, contain, ward off," from PIE *ark- "to hold, contain, guard" (see arcane). Related: Coerced; coercing. No record of the word between late 15c. and mid-17c.; its reappearance 1650s is perhaps a back-formation from coercion.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper