[ fawrs, fohrs ]
See synonyms for: forceforcedforcesforcing on

  1. physical power or strength possessed by a living being: He used all his force in opening the window.

  2. strength or power exerted upon an object; physical coercion; violence: to use force to open the window;to use force on a person.

  1. strength; energy; power; intensity: a personality of great force.

  2. power to influence, affect, or control; efficacious power: the force of circumstances;a force for law and order.

  3. Law. unlawful violence threatened or committed against persons or property.

  4. persuasive power; power to convince: They felt the force of his arguments.

  5. mental or moral strength: force of character.

  6. might, as of a ruler or realm; strength for war.

  7. Often forces. the military or fighting strength, especially of a nation.

  8. any body of persons combined for joint action: a sales force.

  9. intensity or strength of effect: the force of her acting.

  10. Physics.

    • an influence on a body or system, producing or tending to produce a change in movement or in shape or other effects.

    • the intensity of such an influence. Symbol: F, f

  11. any influence or agency analogous to physical force: social forces.

  12. binding power, as of a contract.

  13. Baseball. force play.

  14. value; significance; meaning: The force of his message was lost on me—I didn't understand a word he said.

  15. Billiards. a stroke in which the cue ball is forcibly struck directly below the center in such a manner as to cause it to stop abruptly, bound back, or roll off to one side after hitting the object ball.

verb (used with object),forced, forc·ing.
  1. to compel, constrain, or oblige (oneself or another person) to do something: to force a suspect to confess.

  2. to drive or propel against resistance: He forced his way through the crowd.They forced air into his lungs.

  1. to bring about or effect by force.

  2. to bring about of necessity or as a necessary result: to force a smile.

  3. to put or impose (something or someone) forcibly on or upon a person: to force one's opinions on others.

  4. to compel by force; overcome the resistance of: to force acceptance of something.

  5. to obtain or draw forth by or as if by force; extort: to force a confession.

  6. to enter or take by force; overpower: They forced the town after a long siege.

  7. to break open (a door, lock, etc.).

  8. to cause (plants, fruits, etc.) to grow or mature at an increased rate by artificial means.

  9. to press, urge, or exert (an animal, person, etc.) to violent effort or to the utmost.

  10. to use force upon.

  11. Baseball.

    • to cause (a base runner) to be put out by obliging the runner, as by a ground ball, to vacate a base and attempt to move to the next base in order to make room for another runner or the batter.

    • to cause (a base runner or run) to score, as by walking a batter with the bases full (often followed by in).

  12. Cards.

    • to compel (a player) to trump by leading a suit of which the player has no cards.

    • to compel a player to play (a particular card).

    • to compel (a player) to play so as to make known the strength of the hand.

  13. Photography.

    • to develop (a print or negative) for longer than usual in order to increase density or bring out details.

    • to bring out underexposed parts of (a print or negative) by adding alkali to the developer.

  14. Archaic. to give force to; strengthen; reinforce.

verb (used without object),forced, forc·ing.
  1. to make one's way by force.

Idioms about force

  1. in force,

    • in operation; effective: This ancient rule is no longer in force.

    • in large numbers; at full strength: They attacked in force.

Origin of force

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English noun force, fors, from Old French, from unattested Vulgar Latin fortia, derivative of Latin fortis “strong”; verb derivative of the noun

synonym study For force

3. See strength.

word story For force

Force has a straightforward, uncomplicated history: the word comes via Old French force from fortia, an unattested Vulgar Latin feminine singular noun from Latin fortia, a neuter plural adjective used as a noun, and derived from the adjective fortis “strong, robust, brave.” Nouns and adjectives that were originally neuter in Latin usually become masculine in Romance (languages descended from Latin): corpus “body,” neuter in Latin, becomes corps in French, corpo in Italian, and cuerpo in Spanish, all masculine nouns. The notable exception is that many Latin neuter plural adjectives and participles ending in -ia become feminine singular nouns in Romance because these neuter plurals end in -a, which looks like the singular of Latin feminine nouns of the first declension, especially if the new noun has an abstract or collective meaning. So appārentia, the neuter plural of Latin appārēns “apparent,” will become apparence in French, apparenza in Italian, apariencia in Spanish, aparança in Catalan, and aparenţă in Romanian; and fortia will become force in French, forza in Italian, fuerza in Spanish, força in Catalan, and forţă in Romanian.

Other words for force

Opposites for force

Other words from force

  • force·a·ble, adjective
  • forceless, adjective
  • forcer, noun
  • forc·ing·ly, adverb
  • in·ter·force, noun
  • o·ver·force, noun
  • o·ver·force, verb, o·ver·forced, o·ver·forc·ing.
  • un·force·a·ble, adjective
  • un·forc·ing, adjective

Words that may be confused with force

Words Nearby force Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use force in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for force (1 of 2)


/ (fɔːs) /

  1. strength or energy; might; power: the force of the blow; a gale of great force

  2. exertion or the use of exertion against a person or thing that resists; coercion

  1. physics

    • a dynamic influence that changes a body from a state of rest to one of motion or changes its rate of motion. The magnitude of the force is equal to the product of the mass of the body and its acceleration

    • a static influence that produces an elastic strain in a body or system or bears weight: Symbol: F

  2. physics any operating influence that produces or tends to produce a change in a physical quantity: electromotive force; coercive force

    • intellectual, social, political, or moral influence or strength: the force of his argument; the forces of evil

    • a person or thing with such influence: he was a force in the land

  3. vehemence or intensity: he spoke with great force

  4. a group of persons organized for military or police functions: armed forces

  5. the force (sometimes capital) informal the police force

  6. a group of persons organized for particular duties or tasks: a workforce

  7. criminal law violence unlawfully committed or threatened

  8. philosophy logic that which an expression is normally used to achieve: See speech act, illocution, perlocution

  9. in force

    • (of a law) having legal validity or binding effect

    • in great strength or numbers

  10. join forces to combine strengths, efforts, etc

  1. to compel or cause (a person, group, etc) to do something through effort, superior strength, etc; coerce

  2. to acquire, secure, or produce through effort, superior strength, etc: to force a confession

  1. to propel or drive despite resistance: to force a nail into wood

  2. to break down or open (a lock, safe, door, etc)

  3. to impose or inflict: he forced his views on them

  4. to cause (plants or farm animals) to grow or fatten artificially at an increased rate

  5. to strain or exert to the utmost: to force the voice

  6. to rape; ravish

  7. cards

    • to compel (a player) to trump in order to take a trick

    • to compel a player by the lead of a particular suit to play (a certain card)

    • (in bridge) to induce (a bid) from one's partner by bidding in a certain way

  8. force a smile to make oneself smile

  9. force down to compel an aircraft to land

  10. force the pace to adopt a high speed or rate of procedure

Origin of force

C13: from Old French, from Vulgar Latin fortia (unattested), from Latin fortis strong

Derived forms of force

  • forceable, adjective
  • forceless, adjective
  • forcer, noun
  • forcingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for force (2 of 2)


/ (fɔːs) /

  1. (in northern England) a waterfall

Origin of force

C17: from Old Norse fors

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

Scientific definitions for force


[ fôrs ]

  1. Any of various factors that cause a body to change its speed, direction, or shape. Force is a vector quantity, having both magnitude and direction. Contributions of force from different sources can be summed to give the net force at any given point.

  2. Any of the four natural phenomena involving the interaction between particles of matter. From the strongest to the weakest, the four forces are the strong nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force, and gravity.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for force


In physics, something that causes a change in the motion of an object. The modern definition of force (an object's mass multiplied by its acceleration) was given by Isaac Newton in Newton's laws of motion. The most familiar unit of force is the pound. (See mechanics.)

Notes for force

Gravity, and therefore weight, is a kind of force.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with force


In addition to the idioms beginning with force

  • force someone's hand
  • force to be reckoned with

also see:

  • brute force
  • driving force
  • in force
  • join forces
  • reckon with (force to be reckoned with)

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.