- 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 compelled
Creator Rod Serling was compelled by the need “not to just entertain but to enlighten.”How a War-Weary Vet Created ‘The Twilight Zone’
November 13, 2014
The fact that she was the author of a popular blog called The Blonde Vegan also compelled her to stick to the rigid lifestyle.Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Becomes an Obsession
October 25, 2014
Many were skilled artisans, but some were compelled into service as forced prison laborers.Superman Is Jewish: The Hebrew Roots of America's Greatest Superhero
August 16, 2014
What compelled you to write a book about paranoia and the national security state?The Author Of The Summer's Hit Paranoid Fantasy Opens Up
August 15, 2014
Now, in a Q&A with The Daily Beast, Rosenbaum opens up about many of the issues that compelled him to pick up his pen again.Ron Rosenbaum on Hitler, Hollywood, and Quantifying Evil
July 26, 2014
Finally they had been compelled to fire on them, but had not killed any.Explorations in Australia
A few shots were exchanged, and Melton was compelled to retreat.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
While traveling that night I was compelled to pass a large plantation.Biography of a Slave
I shall be compelled to mention in my report how you and other ladies add to our difficulties.Weighed and Wanting
Now she was compelled to a readjustment: one worked in the night and slept in the day.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
- 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
Word Origin and History for compelled
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper