AskDefine | Define compel

Dictionary Definition



1 force or compel somebody to do something; "We compel all students to fill out this form" [syn: oblige, obligate]
2 make someone do something [syn: command, require] [also: compelling, compelled]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /kəmˈpɛl/, /k@m"pEl/


  1. To force, constrain or coerce.
    • 1600, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act 5, sc. 1,
      Against my will,
      As Pompey was, am I compell'd to set
      Upon one battle all our liberties.
    • 1849, Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, ch. 27,
      Why are not the laws more stringent, that I might compel her to hear reason?
  2. To exact or produce by force.
    • 1912, L. Frank Baum, Sky Island, ch. 14,
      The Queen has nothing but the power to execute the laws, to adjust grievances and to compel order.
  3. To overpower; to subdue.
    • 1917, Upton Sinclair, King Coal, ch. 16,
      She had one of those perfect faces, which irresistibly compel the soul of a man.

Related terms


To force, constrain or coerce
* Spanish: obligar, [forzar]]
To exact by force
To overpower
  • German: zwingen
Translations to be checked


  • Webster 1913
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.

Extensive Definition

To compel one to present information to a jury is done by order of a judge. If a judge believes the individual has information relevant to the cause, he can "force" that person to present that information or be subject to arrest for contempt of court.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

actuate, animate, beat down, beset, bind, break, browbeat, bulldoze, bully, castrate, cause, cause to, clamp down on, coerce, concuss, constrain, cow, daunt, despotize, dictate, domineer, domineer over, drive, drive on, energize, enforce, enslave, force, forward, foster, galvanize, give an impetus, give momentum, goad, grind, grind down, grip, have, henpeck, hold, impel, incite, infatuate, insist upon, intimidate, keep down, keep under, lord it over, make, motivate, move, move to action, necessitate, not let go, oblige, obsess, oppress, overawe, overbear, overmaster, override, possess, power, preoccupy, press heavy on, promote, propel, put in motion, repress, restrain, ride over, ride roughshod over, set agoing, set going, set in motion, shotgun, spark, stimulate, subjugate, suppress, terrorize, thrust, tie, trample down, trample upon, tread down, tread upon, tyrannize, tyrannize over, unman, use force upon, walk all over, walk over, weigh heavy on, whip on
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