What does compel mean?

Definitions for compel

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word compel.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. compel, oblige, obligateverb

    force somebody to do something

    "We compel all students to fill out this form"

  2. compelverb

    necessitate or exact

    "the water shortage compels conservation"


  1. compelverb

    To drive together, round up

    Sheep dogs masterly compel the herd.

  2. compelverb

    To overpower; to subdue

  3. compelverb

    To force, constrain or coerce

    Logic compels the wise, fools feel compelled by emotions instead

  4. compelverb

    To exact, extort, (make) produce by force

  5. Etymology: From compellen, from compellir, from compellere, itself from com- 'together' + pellere 'to drive'

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To COMPELverb

    Etymology: compello, Latin.

    You will compel me then to read the will? William Shakespeare, Jul. Cæsar.

    The spinners, carders, fullers, compell’d by hunger,
    And lack of other means, in desp’rate manner,
    Daring th’ event to the teeth, are all in uproar. William Shakespeare.

    He refused, and said, I will not eat: but his servants, together with the woman, compelled him. 1 Sa. xxvii. 23.

    All these blessings could but enable, not compel us to be happy. Edward Hyde.

    The subjects grief
    Comes through commissions, which compel from each
    The sixth part of his substance, to be levied
    Without delay. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII.


  1. compel

    A motion to compel asks the court to order either the opposing party or a third party to take some action. This sort of motion most commonly deals with discovery disputes, when a party who has propounded discovery to either the opposing party or a third party believes that the discovery responses are insufficient. The motion to compel is used to ask the court to order the non-complying party to produce the documentation or information requested, and/or to sanction the non-complying party for their failure to comply with the discovery requests. The United States court system is divided into three systems; federal, tribal, and state. The federal courts have their own rules which are stated in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The states, on the other hand, have their own codes of civil and criminal procedure. The federal and state rules are similar, but have occasional differences.


  1. compel

    To compel means to force or strongly persuade someone to do something. It typically implies a strong necessity or pressure that can come from internal motivation or external circumstances.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Compelverb

    to drive or urge with force, or irresistibly; to force; to constrain; to oblige; to necessitate, either by physical or moral force

  2. Compelverb

    to take by force or violence; to seize; to exact; to extort

  3. Compelverb

    to force to yield; to overpower; to subjugate

  4. Compelverb

    to gather or unite in a crowd or company

  5. Compelverb

    to call forth; to summon

  6. Compelverb

    to make one yield or submit


  1. Compel

    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.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Compel

    kom-pel′, v.t. to drive or urge on forcibly: to oblige: to force: to obtain by hard labour:—pr.p. compel′ling; pa.p. compelled′.—adj. Compel′lable. [L. com, inten., pellĕre, pulsum, to drive.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'compel' in Verbs Frequency: #990

How to pronounce compel?

How to say compel in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of compel in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of compel in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of compel in a Sentence

  1. Felix Frankfurter:

    The words of the Constitution are so unrestricted by their intrinsic meaning or by their history or by tradition or by prior decisions that they leave the individual Justice free, if indeed they do not compel him, to gather meaning not from reading the Constitution but from reading life.

  2. Voltaire:

    The only way to compel men to speak good of us is to do it.

  3. Fyodor Dostoevsky:

    If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.

  4. Benjamin Netanyahu:

    Now we also face the possibility of a diplomatic offensive, an attempt to compel us by means of U.N. decisions to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years. This will lead Islamic extremists to the outskirts of Tel Aviv and the heart of Jerusalem.

  5. Mukaibar Shah:

    Catch those Stupids who wear masks and compel others also to wear Covid masks and throw them out from the society because their stupidity is one of the biggest threats to the humanity.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for compel

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • تجبرArabic
  • подчинявам, насилвам, принуждавам, заставям, събирамBulgarian
  • nutitCzech
  • zwingen, nötigenGerman
  • αναγκάζωGreek
  • devigiEsperanto
  • forzar, obligar, compelerSpanish
  • pakottaa, [[periä]] [[väkisin]], ajaaFinnish
  • obligerFrench
  • ենթարկել, ստիպել, հարկադրել, պարտադրելArmenian
  • לאלץHebrew
  • 강요하다Korean
  • qui nolentes cogeretLatin
  • bedwingen, afdwingen, dwingen, bijeendrijven, samendrijvenDutch
  • tvingeNorwegian
  • forçarPortuguese
  • обязывать, вынудить, принудить, обязать, принуждать, заставить, заставлять, подчинять, вынуждать, собиратьRussian
  • tvingaSwedish
  • บังคับThai
  • צווינגעןYiddish
  • 迫使Chinese

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"compel." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 24 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/compel>.

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    greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
    • A. usurious
    • B. valetudinarian
    • C. tantamount
    • D. irascible

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