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verb (used with object), im·pelled, im·pel·ling.
  1. to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action.
  2. to drive or cause to move onward; propel; impart motion to.
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Origin of impel

1375–1425; late Middle English impellen < Latin impellere to strike against, set in motion (transitive), equivalent to im- im-1 + pellere to strike, move (something); akin to pulse1
Related formsun·im·pelled, adjective
Can be confusedcompel impel (see synonym study at compel)


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1. actuate.

Synonym study

1. See compel.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

oblige, compel, induce, force, inspire, propel, move, actuate, thrust, poke, motivate, goad, start, prod, boost, instigate, urge, power, influence, excite

Examples from the Web for impelling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for impelling


verb -pels, -pelling or -pelled (tr)
  1. to urge or force (a person) to an action; constrain or motivate
  2. to push, drive, or force into motion
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Derived Formsimpellent, noun, adjective

Word Origin

C15: from Latin impellere to push against, drive forward, from im- (in) + pellere to drive, push, strike
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 impelling



early 15c., from Latin impellere "to push, strike against, drive forward, urge on," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + pellere "to push, drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Related: Impelled; impelling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper