force

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See also: Force, forcé, and forcë

English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English force, fors, forse, from Old French force, from Late Latin fortia, a noun derived from the neuter plural of Latin fortis (strong), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerǵʰ- (to rise, high, hill).

Noun[edit]

force (countable and uncountable, plural forces)

  1. Strength or energy of body or mind; active power; vigour; might; capacity of exercising an influence or producing an effect.
    the force of an appeal, an argument, or a contract
  2. Power exerted against will or consent; compulsory power; violence; coercion.
  3. (countable) Anything that is able to make a substantial change in a person or thing.
  4. (countable, physics) A physical quantity that denotes ability to push, pull, twist or accelerate a body and which has a direction and is measured in a unit dimensioned in mass × distance/time² (ML/T²): SI: newton (N); CGS: dyne (dyn)
  5. Something or anything that has the power to produce a physical effect upon something else, such as causing it to move or change shape.
    • 2012 March, Henry Petroski, “Opening Doors”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, pages 112–3:
      A doorknob of whatever roundish shape is effectively a continuum of levers, with the axis of the latching mechanism—known as the spindle—being the fulcrum about which the turning takes place. Applying a force tangential to the knob is essentially equivalent to applying one perpendicular to a radial line defining the lever.
  6. (countable) A group that aims to attack, control, or constrain.
    reinforcemented increased the American force in the area to 9,000
    • 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      Is Lucius general of the forces?
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      "A fine man, that Dunwody, yonder," commented the young captain, as they parted, and as he turned to his prisoner. "We'll see him on in Washington some day. He is strengthening his forces now against Mr. Benton out there. []."
    • 2004 April 15, “Morning swoop in hunt for Jodi's killer”, in The Scotsman:
      For Lothian and Borders Police, the early-morning raid had come at the end one of biggest investigations carried out by the force, which had originally presented a dossier of evidence on the murder of Jodi Jones to the Edinburgh procurator-fiscal, William Gallagher, on 25 November last year.
  7. (uncountable) The ability to attack, control, or constrain.
  8. (countable) A magic trick in which the outcome is known to the magician beforehand, especially one involving the apparent free choice of a card by another person.
  9. (law) Legal validity.
    The law will come into force in January.
  10. (law) Either unlawful violence, as in a "forced entry", or lawful compulsion.
  11. (linguistics, semantics, pragmatics) Ability of an utterance or its element (word, form, prosody, ...) to effect a given meaning.
    • 1962, J Gonda, The aspectual function of the R̥gvedic present and aorist, S̓-Gravenhage, Mouton, page 43:
      When the aspectual force of the verbal categories weakens, the 'terminative', punctual or determinative value of the prefix gains in importance,...
  12. (humorous or science fiction, with the, often capitalized) A metaphysical and ubiquitous power from the fictional Star Wars universe created by George Lucas. See usage note. [1977]
    • 1999 September 28, Mike Selvey, “Crenshaw vindicated by a chain reaction”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The Europeans tried, my goodness how they tried. But on the day the US proved too strong and too inspired. They were, dammit, just better. And when Leonard's putt dropped they clearly had the force with them as well.
    • 2005, George Lucas, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, spoken by Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), published 2005:
      The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.
  13. (usually with "the", in the singular or plural) Synonym of police force
    • 1880, [U.S.] House documents, page 64:
      Q. All the time that he was on the force?
      A. I cannot say that; but there were men on with me when I was on the force who were very good Republicans.
      Q. During all this time you have been on the police force?
    • 1992, Rage Against the Machine (band), Killing in the Name:
      Some of those that work forces / Are the same that burn crosses
    • 2012 February 1, Janice Kay Johnson, Between Love and Duty, Harlequin, →ISBN, page 77:
      Niall was on the force, too, a detective in major crimes.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Adjectives often applied to "force": military, cultural, economic, gravitational, electric, magnetic, strong, weak, positive, negative, attractive, repulsive, good, evil, dark, physical, muscular, spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional, rotational, tremendous, huge.
  • (science fiction): Outside of fiction, the force may be used as an alternative to invoking luck, destiny, or God. For example, the force was with him instead of luck was on his side, or may the force be with you instead of may God be with you.
Hyponyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English forcen, from Old French forcier, from Late Latin *fortiāre, from Latin fortia.

Verb[edit]

force (third-person singular simple present forces, present participle forcing, simple past and past participle forced)

  1. (transitive) To violate (a woman); to rape. [from 14thc.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter V, in Le Morte Darthur, book V:
      For yf ye were suche fyfty as ye be / ye were not able to make resystence ageynst this deuyl / here lyeth a duchesse deede the whiche was the fayrest of alle the world wyf to syre Howel / duc of Bretayne / he hath murthred her in forcynge her / and has slytte her vnto the nauyl
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 1, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      a young woman not farre from mee had headlong cast her selfe out of a high window, with intent to kill herselfe, only to avoid the ravishment of a rascally-base souldier that lay in her house, who offered to force her [].
  2. (obsolete, reflexive, intransitive) To exert oneself, to do one's utmost. [from 14thc.]
  3. (transitive) To make someone or something do something, often regardless of their will. [from 15thc.]
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Captain Edward Carlisle [] felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, []; he could not tell what this prisoner might do. He cursed the fate which had assigned such a duty, cursed especially that fate which forced a gallant soldier to meet so superb a woman as this under handicap so hard.
    • 2011 March 23, Tim Webb, Fiona Harvey, The Guardian:
      Housebuilders had warned that the higher costs involved would have forced them to build fewer homes and priced many homebuyers out of the market.
    • 2024 March 6, “Network News: Southern revises Coastway service”, in RAIL, number 1004, page 12:
      The hourly Southampton to London Victoria service via Horsham has been axed, as has the direct Littlehampton-Bognor Regis service, forcing passengers to change [trains] at Barnham.
  4. (transitive) To constrain by force; to overcome the limitations or resistance of. [from 16thc.]
  5. (transitive) To drive (something) by force, to propel (generally + prepositional phrase or adverb). [from 16thc.]
    • 1697, Virgil, “(please specify the book number)”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
      It stuck so fast, so deeply buried lay / That scarce the victor forced the steel away.
    • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii]:
      to force the tyrant from his seat by war
    • 1655, Thomas Fuller, edited by James Nichols, The Church History of Britain, [], new edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, [], published 1837, →OCLC:
      Ethelbert [] ordered that none should be forced into religion.
      The spelling has been modernized.
    • 2007 November 4, The Guardian:
      In a groundbreaking move, the Pentagon is compensating servicemen seriously hurt when an American tank convoy forced them off the road.
  6. (transitive) To cause to occur (despite inertia, resistance etc.); to produce through force. [from 16thc.]
    The comedian's jokes weren't funny, but I forced a laugh now and then.
    • 2009 July 23, “All things to Althingi”, in The Economist:
      The second problem is the economy, the shocking state of which has forced the decision to apply to the EU.
  7. (transitive) To forcibly open (a door, lock etc.). [from 17thc.]
    To force a lock.
  8. To obtain or win by strength; to take by violence or struggle; specifically, to capture by assault; to storm, as a fortress.
  9. (transitive, baseball) To create an out by touching a base in advance of a runner who has no base to return to while in possession of a ball which has already touched the ground.
    Jones forced the runner at second by stepping on the bag.
  10. (whist) To compel (an adversary or partner) to trump a trick by leading a suit that he/she does not hold.
  11. (archaic) To put in force; to cause to be executed; to make binding; to enforce.
  12. (archaic) To provide with forces; to reinforce; to strengthen by soldiers; to man; to garrison.
  13. (obsolete) To allow the force of; to value; to care for.
  14. To grow (rhubarb) in the dark, causing it to grow early.
Conjugation[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English force, forz, fors, from Old Norse fors (waterfall), from Proto-Germanic *fursaz (waterfall). Cognate with Icelandic foss (waterfall), Norwegian foss (waterfall), Swedish fors (waterfall). Doublet of foss.

Noun[edit]

force (plural forces)

  1. (countable, Northern England) A waterfall or cascade.
    • 1778, Thomas West, A Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire:
      to see the falls or force of the river Kent
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

From Middle English forcen, forsen, a use of force, with confusion of farce (to stuff).

Verb[edit]

force (third-person singular simple present forces, present participle forcing, simple past and past participle forced)

  1. To stuff; to lard; to farce.
Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Inherited from Old French force, from Late Latin fortia, a noun derived from the neuter plural of Latin fortis (strong).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

force f (plural forces)

  1. force
    • c. 1656–1662, Blaise Pascal, “Fragment Raisons des effets n° 20 / 21”, in Pensées [Thoughts]‎[2]:
      La justice sans la force est impuissante. La force sans la justice est tyrannique.
      Justice without force is powerless. Force without justice is tyrannical.
    • 1897, Henri Poincaré, “Les idées de Hertz sur la mécanique [The ideas of Hertz on mechanics]”, in Revue générale des sciences pures et appliquées [General Review of Pure and Applied Sciences]‎[3], volume 8, page 734:
      — Qu’est-ce que la force ? C’est, répond Lagrange, une cause qui produit le mouvement d’un corps ou qui tend à le produire. — C’est, dira Kirchhoff, le produit de la masse par laccélération. Mais alors, pourquoi ne pas dire que la masse est le quotient de la force’ par l’accélération ?
      "What is force? It is," answers Lagrange, "a cause which produces the movement of a body or which tends to produce it." "It is," Kirchhoff will say, "the product of mass by acceleration." But then why not say that mass is the quotient of force by acceleration?
  2. strength

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

  • Polish: forsa
  • Azerbaijani: fors

Adjective[edit]

force (invariable)

  1. (archaic) Many; a lot of; a great quantity of

Verb[edit]

force

  1. inflection of forcer:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative

Further reading[edit]

Galician[edit]

Verb[edit]

force

  1. inflection of forzar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative
  2. (reintegrationist norm) inflection of forçar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative

Middle French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French force.

Noun[edit]

force f (plural forces)

  1. force (physical effort; physical might)

Descendants[edit]

Old French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Late Latin fortia, a noun derived from the neuter plural of Latin fortis (strong).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (classical) IPA(key): /ˈfɔɾt͡sə/, (northern) /-t͡ʃə/
  • (late) IPA(key): /ˈfɔɾsə/, (northern) /-ʃə/

Noun[edit]

force oblique singularf (oblique plural forces, nominative singular force, nominative plural forces)

  1. strength; might

Related terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Portuguese[edit]

Verb[edit]

force

  1. inflection of forçar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative