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compel

[kuh m-pel]
See more synonyms for compel on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), com·pelled, com·pel·ling.
  1. to force or drive, especially to a course of action: His disregard of the rules compels us to dismiss him.
  2. to secure or bring about by force.
  3. to force to submit; subdue.
  4. to overpower.
  5. Archaic. to drive together; unite by force; herd.
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verb (used without object), com·pelled, com·pel·ling.
  1. to use force.
  2. to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc.
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Origin of compel

1350–1400; Middle English compellen (< Anglo-French) < Latin compellere to crowd, force, equivalent to com- com- + pellere to push, drive
Related formscom·pel·la·ble, adjectivecom·pel·la·bly, adverbcom·pel·lent, adjectivecom·pel·ler, nouncom·pel·ling·ly, adverbpre·com·pel, verb (used with object), pre·com·pelled, pre·com·pel·ling.un·com·pel·la·ble, adjectiveun·com·pelled, adjective
Can be confusedcoerce compel constrain force obligecompel impel (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms

See more synonyms for compel on Thesaurus.com
1. constrain, oblige, coerce. 3. overpower, bend.

Synonym study

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

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Send an army into Attica, and compel the Athenians to withdraw their forces from Potidaea.

  • 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

    Theodor Hertzka

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for compel

compel

verb -pels, -pelling or -pelled (tr)
  1. to cause (someone) by force (to be or do something)
  2. to obtain by force; exactto compel obedience
  3. to overpower or subdue
  4. archaic to herd or drive together
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Derived Formscompellable, adjectivecompellably, adverbcompeller, noun

Word Origin

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

v.

mid-14c., from Old French compellir, from Latin compellere "to drive together, drive to one place" (of cattle), "to force or compel" (of persons), from com- "together" (see com-) + pellere "to drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Related: Compelled; compelling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper