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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)


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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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for uncompelled

Historical Examples

  • If she gives up anything it is by her own free and uncompelled will.

    Armorel of Lyonesse

    Walter Besant

  • It is this voluntary, uncompelled, spontaneous devotion of Himself to the good of men which is the magnetic point in this earth.

  • Without hope, uncompelled labor is an impossibility; and hope implies an object.

    Lectures on Art

    Washington Allston

  • No one uncompelled cared to face the grim, gray, scowling day whose breath was freezing.

    A Man's Hearth

    Eleanor M. Ingram

British Dictionary definitions for uncompelled


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 uncompelled



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