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Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French enforcier, from Late Latin infortiāre, from in- + fortis (strong).



enforce (third-person singular simple present enforces, present participle enforcing, simple past and past participle enforced)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To strengthen (a castle, town etc.) with extra troops, fortifications etc. [14th-18thc.]
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To intensify, make stronger, add force to. [14th-18thc.]
  3. (obsolete, reflexive) To exert oneself, to try hard. [14th-17thc.]
  4. To give strength or force to; to affirm, to emphasize. [from 15thc.]
    The victim was able to enforce his evidence against the alleged perpetrator.
  5. (archaic) To compel, oblige (someone or something); to force. [from 16thc.]
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069:, I.2.4.iv:
      Uladislaus the Second, King of Poland, and Peter Dunnius, Earl of Shrine [] had been hunting late, and were enforced to lodge in a poor cottage.
    • 1899, E. OE. Somerville and Martin Ross, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M., Great Uncle McCarthy:
      In a few minutes I was stealthily groping my way down my own staircase, with a box of matches in my hand, enforced by scientific curiosity, but none the less armed with a stick.
  6. To keep up, impose or bring into effect something, not necessarily by force. [from 17thc.]
    The police are there to enforce the law.
  7. (obsolete) To make or gain by force; to force.
    to enforce a passage
    • Spenser
      enforcing furious way
  8. (obsolete) To put in motion or action by violence; to drive.
    • Shakespeare
      As swift as stones / Enforced from the old Assyrian slings.
  9. (obsolete) To give force to; to strengthen; to invigorate; to urge with energy.
    to enforce arguments or requests
    • Burke
      enforcing sentiment of the thrust humanity
  10. (obsolete) To urge; to ply hard; to lay much stress upon.
    • Shakespeare
      Enforce him with his envy to the people.
  11. To prove; to evince.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Hooker to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]


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