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From Middle English impellen, borrowed from Latin impellō.



impel (third-person singular simple present impels, present participle impelling, simple past and past participle impelled)

  1. (transitive) To urge a person; to press on; to incite to action or motion via intrinsic motivation.
    Antonym: (to compel or drive extrinsically) propel
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in The Mirror and the Lamp[1]:
      She was a fat, round little woman, richly apparelled in velvet and lace, […]; and the way she laughed, cackling like a hen, the way she talked to the waiters and the maid, […]—all these unexpected phenomena impelled one to hysterical mirth, and made one class her with such immortally ludicrous types as Ally Sloper, the Widow Twankey, or Miss Moucher.
    • 2016, Noam Chomsky, What Kind of Creatures Are We?, New York: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 61:
      Concern for the common good should impel us to find ways to overcome the devilish impact of these disastrous policies []
  2. (transitive) To drive forward; to propel an object, to provide an impetus for motion or action.
    Synonym: propel


Related terms[edit]