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From Middle English forcible, forsable, from Old French forcible, from forcier (to conquer by force).


forcible (comparative more forcible, superlative most forcible)

  1. Done by force, forced.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book II”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 790-796:
      I fled; but he pursued (though more, it seems, / Inflamed with lust than rage), and, swifter far, / Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed, / And, in embraces forcible and foul / Engendering with me, of that rape begot / These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry / Surround me, as thou saw'st—
    • 1891, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, chapter VII, in A Study in Scarlet. A Detective Story, 3rd edition, London, New York, N.Y.: Ward, Lock, Bowden, and Co., [], published 1892, →OCLC:
      The forcible administration of poison is by no means a new thing in criminal annals.
    • 1923 March 9, “Jim Crow Tendency”, in Time:
      Since the forcible ejection of pugilist Siki from the New York Bar in Paris, discussion of Negro rights has become serious.
    • 2008, U.S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States
      Forcible rape, as defined in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Attempts or assaults to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.
  2. (rare or obsolete) Having (physical) force, forceful.
    • 1911, Jack London, chapter XXVI, in Adventure:
      [] he drew her to him, laid a forcible detaining arm about her waist, and misapprehended her frantic revolt for an exhibition of maidenly reluctance.
  3. Having a powerful effect; forceful, telling, strong, convincing, effective.
    • 1594–1597, Richard Hooker, chapter III, in J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, (please specify the page):
      But that which hath been once most sufficient, may wax otherwise by alteration of time and place; that punishment which hath been sometimes forcible to bridle sin, may grow afterwards too weak and feebled.
    • 1598–1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “Much Adoe about Nothing”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene ii]:
      Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Job 6:25:
      How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?
    • 1859, Francis Bacon, Historia Densi et Rari (1623), translated by James Spedding and Robert Leslie Ellis, in The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon, edited by James Spedding, London: Longman & Co., 1861, Vol. II, section 388, p. 470,
      Sweet smells are most forcible in dry substances, when broken; and so likewise in oranges or lemons, the nipping off their rind giveth out their smell more []
    • 1944 May and June, “In the Critics' Den”, in Railway Magazine, page 132:
      [...] indeed, it is seldom that a week passes but that we receive forcible reminders of the lynx-eyed scrutiny to which each successive issue is subjected by the experts.
    • 1951, C. S. Lewis, chapter 7, in Prince Caspian, Collins, published 1998:
      They all jumped up, shaking the water out of their ears and wringing their little blankets, and asked the Giant in shrill but forcible voices whether he thought they weren’t wet enough without this sort of thing.
  4. Able to be forced.
    • 1831, Richard Burn, Joseph Chitty, Thomas Chitty, The Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer, volume 1, page 793:
      [] it seems that an entry is not forcible by the bare drawing up a latch, or pulling back the bolt of a door, there being no appearance therein of its being done by strong hand, or multitude of people; []
    • 1835, Sir Thomas Edlyne Tomlins, Thomas Colpitts Granger, The Law-dictionary:
      But an entry may be forcible, not only in respect of a violence actually done to the person of a man, but also in respect of any other kind of violence in the manner of the entry, as by breaking open the doors of a house []

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