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[im-pel] /ɪmˈpɛl/
verb (used with object), impelled, impelling.
to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action.
to drive or cause to move onward; propel; impart motion to.
Origin of impel
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English impellen < Latin impellere to strike against, set in motion (transitive), equivalent to im- im-1 + pellere to strike, move (something); akin to pulse1
Related forms
unimpelled, adjective
Can be confused
compel, impel (see synonym study at compel)
compelled, impelled.
1. actuate. See compel.
1. restrain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for impel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The reasons which impel him to yield even then are somewhat obscure, but two or three of them, perhaps, may be vaguely discerned.

    In Defense of Women H. L. Mencken
  • But a solemn sense of duty seemed to impel him to this task.

  • There must be some sort of bacteria in fish which infect the catcher and impel him to expand facts whether he will or not.

    Through Arctic Lapland Cutcliffe Hyne
  • They were not many, but enough to impel me to a quick resolve.

    Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman J. H. (James Harvey) Kidd
  • The sentiments by which it is animated awaken instant sympathy and the principles that impel command universal respect.

    Shadows of the Stage William Winter
  • Wounded pride, did he love her deeply, might now impel him to be silent.

    A War-Time Wooing Charles King
  • Perhaps I should account this costliness a merit, since it must impel farmers to study how to make few fences serve their turn.

    What I know of farming: Horace Greeley
  • What is there about Mr Glass and his money troubles that should impel such urgency?

    The Wisdom of Father Brown G. K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for impel


verb (transitive) -pels, -pelling, -pelled
to urge or force (a person) to an action; constrain or motivate
to push, drive, or force into motion
Derived Forms
impellent, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin impellere to push against, drive forward, from im- (in) + pellere to drive, push, strike
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 impel

early 15c., from Latin impellere "to push, strike against, drive forward, urge on," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + pellere "to push, drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Related: Impelled; impelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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