I was contemplating over the two words - impel and compel.

consider the examples: 1. she impelled me to take the job 2. she compelled me to take the job.

is the word compel somewhat derogatory or coercing something against one's will? Can one be used in place of the other. someone ratiocinate please.

1 Answer 1


You should use impel to mean to drive or to urge, and compel to mean to force or to make something happen. Compel is definitely stronger (implying more force) than impel, and if you mean "coerce against one's will," then you should use compel.

Look at the words in the definitions for impel:

  1. to urge or drive forward or on by or as if by the exertion of strong moral pressure
  2. to impart motion to

and compel:

  1. to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
  2. to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure

Impel has words like drive, push, and urge. When the definition of compel says drive or urge, it adds forcefully or irresistibly.

Impelling is setting something in motion or driving it on, and compelling is forcing something.


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