compel, impel

 Both words imply the application of a force leading to some form of action, but they are not quite synonymous. Compel is the stronger of the two and, like its cousin compulsion, suggests action undertaken as a result of coercion or irresistible pressure: "The man’s bullying tactics compelled us to flee." Impel is closer in meaning to encourage and means to urge forward: "The audience’s ovation impelled me to speak at greater length than I had intended." If you are compelled to do something, you have no choice. If you are impelled, an element of willingness is possible.

Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • compel, impel — These words agree in the idea of using physical or other force to result in a course of action, to cause something to be done. Compel has a greater sense of coercion, of actual force, than does impel: My mounting debts compelled me to seek a loan …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • compel, impel —    Both words imply the application of a force leading to some form of action, but they are not quite synonymous. Compel is the stronger of the two and, like its cousin compulsion, suggests action undertaken as a result of coercion or… …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • compel — compellable, adj. compellably, adv. compellent, adj. compeller, n. compellingly, adv. /keuhm pel /, v., compelled, compelling. v.t. 1. to force or drive, esp. to a course of action: His disregard of the rules compels us to dismiss him …   Universalium

  • compel — com•pel [[t]kəmˈpɛl[/t]] v. t. pelled, pel•ling 1) to force or drive, esp. to a course of action: His unruliness compels us to dismiss him[/ex] 2) to secure or bring about by force or power: to compel obedience[/ex] 3) archaic to drive together;… …   From formal English to slang

  • impel — See compel. See compel, impel See impel, induce …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • impel — im|pel [ımˈpel] v past tense and past participle impelled present participle impelling [T] formal [Date: 1400 1500; : Latin; Origin: impellere, from pellere to drive ] if something impels you to do something, it makes you feel very strongly that… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • compel — See compel, impel …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • compel — com·pel /kəm pel/ vt com·pelled, com·pel·ling: to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure and esp. by authority or law cannot compel the defendant to testify the result...is compelled by, the original understanding of the fourteenth… …   Law dictionary

  • impel — I verb actuate, agitate, arouse, catapult, cause, drive forward, drive onward, encourage, fling, give an impetus, heave, hurl, impart momentum, impart motion, incitare, incite, incite to action, induce, instigate, jaculate, launch, mobilize,… …   Law dictionary

  • impel — drive, *move, actuate Analogous words: compel, constrain, *force: *provoke, excite, stimulate: incite, instigate, foment: goad, spur (see corresponding nouns at MOTIVE) Antonyms: restrain Contrasted words: curb, check, inhibit (see RESTRAIN) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.