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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 impelled
  • It would have been helpful for us to know more of what was in their minds and what impelled them to do what they did.
  • Since her husband was impelled on these extraordinary journeys, she showed little emotion whenever he left.
  • Incidentally the bee, while impelled by an instinct that makes it search for sugar, sucks in therewith its solid sustenance.
  • It happens, usually impelled by economic complaisance.
  • The mere thought that school would try to interfere with my plans impelled me to choose.
  • Then, also, one is impelled to dismiss any thought of guilt against quite a number of the characters.
  • It was no wonder that the thousands of persons in the audience were impelled to applaud.
  • Low pay and poor working conditions had impelled her to take a leading role in efforts to unionize the plant.
  • As in the civil rights era, politicians won't make big changes unless they are impelled and protected by a social upsurge.
  • Often he is impelled to work by family affection, but this fact does not diminish his heroism.
British Dictionary definitions for impelled


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 impelled



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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