- to force or drive, especially to a course of action: His disregard of the rules compels us to dismiss him.
- to secure or bring about by force.
- to force to submit; subdue.
- to overpower.
- Archaic. to drive together; unite by force; herd.
- to use force.
- to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc.
Origin of compel
1350–1400; Middle English compellen (< Anglo-French) < Latin compellere to crowd, force, equivalent to com- com- + pellere to push, drive
SynonymsSee more synonyms for compel on Thesaurus.com
1. constrain, oblige, coerce. 3. overpower, bend.
3. Compel, impel agree in the idea of using physical or other force to cause something to be done. Compel means to constrain someone, in some way, to yield or to do what one wishes: to compel a recalcitrant debtor to pay; Fate compels us to face danger and trouble. Impel may mean literally to push forward, but is usually applied figuratively, meaning to provide a strong motive or incentive toward a certain end: Wind impels a ship. Curiosity impels me to ask.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for compel
It is “an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will” by spilling blood, and lots of it.How Clausewitz Invented Modern War
James A. Warren
November 24, 2014
And the truth that language changes over time does not compel us to endorse any particular change.Go Ahead, End With a Preposition: Grammar Rules We All Can Live With
November 3, 2014
Which brings us to the images that compel our attention today.When a Picture Is Too Powerful
September 15, 2014
“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” Miller added.U.S. Air Force: Swear to God—or Get Out
September 8, 2014
Owen will have the power to compel the production of witnesses and documents from the British security and intelligence services.Brits Investigate Assassination of the Spy Who Warned Us About Putin
July 22, 2014
Send an army into Attica, and compel the Athenians to withdraw their forces from Potidaea.Stories from Thucydides
H. L. Havell
Will you then ostracize the South and compel the abolition of slavery?Slavery Ordained of God
Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.
If he does not mind being whipped, there is nothing to compel him to work for his master.Freeland
No one shall ever compel me to paint a picture again with so much labour.Albert Durer
T. Sturge Moore
These laws surround us and compel us; sometimes they wound us.Initiation into Philosophy
- to cause (someone) by force (to be or do something)
- to obtain by force; exactto compel obedience
- to overpower or subdue
- archaic to herd or drive together
C14: from Latin compellere to drive together, from com- together + pellere to drive
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 compel
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper