force

[ fawrs, fohrs ]
/ fɔrs, foʊrs /

noun

verb (used with object), forced, forc·ing.

verb (used without object), forced, forc·ing.

to make one's way by force.

Idioms

    in force,
    1. in operation; effective: This ancient rule is no longer in force.
    2. in large numbers; at full strength: They attacked in force.

Origin of force

1250–1300; (noun) Middle English < Middle French < Vulgar Latin *fortia, derivative of Latin fortis strong; (v.) Middle English forcen < Anglo-French, Old French forcer, derivative of the noun

Related forms

Can be confused

coerce compel constrain force oblige

Synonym study

3. See strength.

Word story

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in force (1 of 2)

force

1
/ (fɔːs) /

noun

verb (tr)

Derived Forms

forceable, adjectiveforceless, adjectiveforcer, nounforcingly, adverb

Word Origin for force

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

British Dictionary definitions for in force (2 of 2)

force

2
/ (fɔːs) /

noun

(in northern England) a waterfall

Word Origin for 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

Medicine definitions for in force

force

[ fôrs ]

n.

The capacity to do work or cause physical change; energy, strength, or active power.
A vector quantity that tends to produce an acceleration of a body in the direction of its application.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for in force

force

[ fôrs ]

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.
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.

Culture definitions for in force

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.)

Note

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.

Idioms and Phrases with in force (1 of 2)

in force


1

In full strength, in large numbers, as in Demonstrators were out in force. This usage originally alluded to a large military force. [Early 1300s]

2

Operative, binding, as in This rule is no longer in force. This usage originally alluded to the binding power of a law. [Late 1400s]

Idioms and Phrases with in force (2 of 2)

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.