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From Middle English compellen, borrowed from Middle French compellir, from Latin compellere, itself from com- (together) + pellere (to drive). Displaced native Old English nīedan.


  • IPA(key): /kəmˈpɛl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛl
  • Hyphenation: com‧pel


compel (third-person singular simple present compels, present participle compelling, simple past and past participle compelled)

  1. (transitive, archaic, literally) To drive together, round up (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  2. (transitive) To overpower; to subdue.
    • 1917, Upton Sinclair, chapter 16, in King Coal:
      She had one of those perfect faces, which irresistibly compel the soul of a man.
  3. (transitive) To force, constrain or coerce.
    Logic compels the wise, while fools feel compelled by emotions.
  4. (transitive) To exact, extort, (make) produce by force.
  5. (obsolete) To force to yield; to overpower; to subjugate.
  6. (obsolete) To gather or unite in a crowd or company.
  7. (obsolete) To call forth; to summon.

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