9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[kuh m-pel-ing] /kəmˈpɛl ɪŋ/
tending to compel, as to force or push toward a course of action; overpowering:
There were compelling reasons for their divorce.
having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect:
a man of compelling integrity; a compelling drama.
Origin of compelling
1490-1500; compel + -ing2
Related forms
uncompelling, adjective


[kuh m-pel] /kəmˈpɛl/
verb (used with object), compelled, compelling.
to force or drive, especially to a course of action:
His disregard of the rules compels us to dismiss him.
to secure or bring about by force.
to force to submit; subdue.
to overpower.
Archaic. to drive together; unite by force; herd.
verb (used without object), compelled, compelling.
to use force.
to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc.
1350-1400; Middle English compellen (< Anglo-French) < Latin compellere to crowd, force, equivalent to com- com- + pellere to push, drive
Related forms
compellable, adjective
compellably, adverb
compellent, adjective
compeller, noun
compellingly, adverb
precompel, verb (used with object), precompelled, precompelling.
uncompellable, adjective
uncompelled, adjective
Can be confused
coerce, compel, constrain, force, oblige (see synonym study at oblige)
compel, impel (see synonym study at the current entry)
compelled, impelled.
1. constrain, oblige, coerce. Compel, impel agree in the idea of using physical or other force to cause something to be done. Compel means to constrain someone, in some way, to yield or to do what one wishes: to compel a recalcitrant debtor to pay; Fate compels us to face danger and trouble. Impel may mean literally to push forward, but is usually applied figuratively, meaning to provide a strong motive or incentive toward a certain end: Wind impels a ship. Curiosity impels me to ask. 3. overpower, bend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for compelling
  • Now a compelling new voice had uncorked all that bottled-up generational restlessness.
  • Thanks so much for the information you have provided me concerning his life's compelling story outside of baseball.
  • As if their compelling native characteristics had been replaced by ersatz versions.
  • Focus your answer on what you find compelling about them rather than on what they should find compelling about you.
  • For researchers, offshore relations are often more compelling than local connections.
  • If you want to write compelling literature, you don't go to graduate school.
  • But that drama element makes it more compelling to watch and play.
  • The harmonies are slightly befuddled and the playing is enjoyable but not entirely compelling.
  • His friendliness, compelling at first, could suddenly turn sour.
  • There are an infinite number of answers to this important question, which is what makes reading so compelling.
British Dictionary definitions for compelling


arousing or denoting strong interest, esp admiring interest
(of an argument, evidence, etc) convincing


verb (transitive) -pels, -pelling, -pelled
to cause (someone) by force (to be or do something)
to obtain by force; exact: to compel obedience
to overpower or subdue
(archaic) to herd or drive together
Derived Forms
compellable, adjective
compellably, adverb
compeller, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin compellere to drive together, from com- together + pellere to drive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for compelling

c.1600, present participle adjective from compel. Meaning "irresistible" is from 1901. Related: Compellingly.



mid-14c., from Old French compellir, from Latin compellere "to drive together, drive to one place" (of cattle), "to force or compel" (of persons), from com- "together" (see com-) + pellere "to drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Related: Compelled; compelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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