There are 2 main definitions of force in English:

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force 1

Pronunciation: /fôrs/


1Strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement: he was thrown backward by the force of the explosion
More example sentences
  • Subjectivity and conscious agency, then, are as potent as any physical force.
  • The power to hoist such weight is not all brute strength - though physical force is crucial.
  • There is a sponginess underfoot; a greater upward force to your movements.
strength, power, energy, might, effort, exertion;
impact, pressure, weight, impetus
1.1 Physics An influence tending to change the motion of a body or produce motion or stress in a stationary body. The magnitude of such an influence is often calculated by multiplying the mass of the body by its acceleration.
Example sentences
  • This is analogous to the way in which electrons experience the weak force while photons do not.
  • It is worth emphasising that there is a major step to be made from an inverse square law of force to explain planetary motion and a universal law of gravitation.
  • In many ways, however, the weak force resembles the electromagnetic force.
1.2A person or thing regarded as exerting power or influence: he might still be a force for peace and unity
More example sentences
  • Whether the expansion of such influences is a force for good or evil depends on the character of any given nation.
  • I believe in fair play and have always endeavoured to be a force for good in politics.
  • Murdoch is well aware of the massive global power he wields as a force for liberty and the empowerment of the individual.
agency, power, influence, instrument, vehicle, means
1.3 [in combination] Used with a number as a measure of wind strength on the Beaufort scale: a force-nine gale
More example sentences
  • Typhoon Rananim brought hurricanes of force 12 on the Beaufort scale when it landed.
  • The most nervous moment of the trip so far was when a storm blew up gale force 6 winds.
  • The vessel, with her five crew, was stranded in gale force 10 winds and heavy swell.
2Coercion or compulsion, especially with the use or threat of violence: they ruled by law and not by force
More example sentences
  • Either by force or by coercion, any sprouting counter-power will be neutralized.
  • At times, hunting parties encountered other camps of women, and they took them by force under threat of death.
  • Our whole trade is one of sufferance and compulsion, and by force alone can be maintained…
coercion, compulsion, constraint, duress, oppression, harassment, intimidation, threats
informal arm-twisting, bullying tactics
3Mental or moral strength or power: the force of popular opinion
More example sentences
  • As a mother, I appreciate the moral and emotional force of this recourse to the maternal.
  • Does ‘our culture of spectatorship neutralise the moral force of photographs of atrocities’?
  • Take the references to god out of Dr. King's speeches and they lose none of their moral force.
3.1The state of being in effect or valid: the law came into force in January
More example sentences
  • If approved, it is hoped it will come into force within the current financial year.
  • Other large businesses have been working to limit the effects of the ban before it comes into force.
  • The order comes into force on Saturday and will remain active for six months.
effective, in operation, operative, operational, in action, valid
3.2The powerful effect of something: the force of her writing is undiminished
More example sentences
  • An art form that is both abstract and spiritual is a very powerful force - and in a sense transcends mere politics.
  • Addiction, which comes from the Latin to enslave, has a powerful rhetorical force in our culture.
  • Are we aware of evil's reality yet blind to its force and effects, unable to name and describe it?
cogency, potency, weight, effectiveness, soundness, validity, strength, power, significance, influence, authority
informal punch
formal efficacy
4An organized body of military personnel or police: a soldier in a UN peacekeeping force
More example sentences
  • Added to military and constabulary forces are the civil police of international organizations.
  • Local police, military forces and authorities patrolled major public places and festival venues.
  • It's use in the modern French context began as a reference to a military force employed as police.
body, body of people, group, outfit, party, team;
detachment, unit, squad;
border patrol
informal bunch
4.1 (forces) Troops and weaponry: concealment from enemy forces figurative a battle between the forces of good and evil
More example sentences
  • The second day the friendly forces advanced while the enemy force attempted to deny the route and destroy HQ elements.
  • As Team Alpha moves toward CP8, a steady roll of armored forces advance toward the enemy.
  • Once friendly forces demonstrate the ability to mass fires, enemy forces will break contact.
4.2A group of people brought together and organized for a particular activity: a sales force
More example sentences
  • In both cases, pro-US political forces brought down governments that were aligned with Moscow.
  • Now Ann Summers has a sales force of 7,500 party organisers and 120 shops in the UK.
  • It prevented student organization by enlisting a force of students to report on political activity.
4.3 (the force) informal A police department.
Example sentences
  • Chief Inspector Bob Farmer, of the force's road policing department, said the cause of the accident was unclear.
  • An investigation will now be carried out by Insp Ian Lemon of the force's professional standards department.
  • He was from the force's science department, and he said he had come to take fingerprints.
5 Baseball A force-out.
Example sentences
  • The force was not in order, but Santo thinking he had been retired, started toward the dugout.
  • If Posada had tagged Alicea first, he would have removed the force at the plate.
  • The fielder threw to second to get the force and then threw to third to tag me out.
5.1A situation in which a force-out is possible.
Example sentences
  • It's important for runners and defensive players to know when a force is in effect and when it is removed.


[with object]
1Make a way through or into by physical strength; break open by force: they broke into Fred’s house and forced every cupboard door with ax or crowbar
More example sentences
  • Locks had to be refitted to drugs cupboards which had been forced and emptied.
  • She went downstairs and noticed a window at the rear of the house had been forced.
break open, burst open, knock down, smash down, kick in
1.1 [with object] Drive or push into a specified position or state using physical strength or against resistance: she forced her feet into flat leather sandals figurative Fields was forced out as director
More example sentences
  • And no-one, or very few, will be forced out of positions funded by us poor suckers, the taxpayers.
  • He has forced himself into the position by gripping the bat right at the bottom of the handle.
  • He could barely breath and his body was in pain from the unnatural position he'd forced himself into.
propel, push, thrust, shove, drive, press, pump
1.2Achieve or bring about (something) by coercion or effort: Sabine forced a smile she forced her way up the ladder
More example sentences
  • They forced their way deep into the Keighley half and giant prop Frank Watene forced his way under the posts from acting half just a metre out.
  • The men forced their way into the couple's south Essex home, attacked the husband and wife and used a stun-gun on them to keep them subdued.
  • He had captained the England Under-19 team and forced his way into the frame with some big hitting for Lancashire.
1.3Push or strain (something) to the utmost: she knew if she forced it she would rip it
More example sentences
  • Now, does he have to take some responsibility for not pushing it, not forcing it?
  • It is important to make sure that the frame is not too high to fit under the tread comfortably as forcing it will push the tread up from its position.
1.4Artificially hasten the development or maturity of (a plant).
Example sentences
  • For example, bulbs like crocuses and daffodils, which are good at naturalizing, generally do well planted out after forcing.
  • The nice thing about forcing Amaryllis bulbs into flower inside the home is that it is so simple to do.
  • Bulbs that are used for forcing indoors cannot be forced two years in succession.
extract, elicit, exact, extort, wrest, wring, drag, screw, squeeze
2 (often be forced) Make (someone) do something against their will: she was forced into early retirement [with object]: the universities were forced to cut staff
More example sentences
  • Ever troublesome to Napoleon, he was forced into temporary retirement in 1812 at Napoleon's request.
  • When he is forced into battle, he hides inside a cannon, and is catapulted into the tent of the enemy's general staff.
  • I was again forced into doing commercials by a photographer friend of mine.
compel, coerce, make, constrain, oblige, impel, drive, pressurize, pressure, press, push, press-gang, bully, dragoon, bludgeon
informal put the screws on, lean on, twist someone's arm
2.1Rape (a woman).
Example sentences
  • Renay is continually called upon to entertain Terry's white friends (a position resembling servitude); Terry's friends view Renay as a new object, something that they can force themselves upon at any time.
  • Rape is again seen as a ‘crime of passion’, letting go when you see a sexy woman, rather than consciously and violently forcing yourself upon her.
  • The setup gave it away - they actually meant the hubby to be that tragic figure of heroic love lost, not some smelly dude forcing himself upon somebody's daughter.
2.2 Baseball Put out (a runner), or cause (a runner) to be put out, at the base to which they are advancing when they are forced to run on a batted ball: I was forced at second base as the first half of a double play
More example sentences
  • Martinez quickly picked the ball up and tagged third base, seemingly forcing Gibson.
  • Rivera fielded the ball, but threw it into center field in attempting to force Dellucci at second.
  • He walked Rico Petrocelli, forcing Doyle home with Boston's second run.
2.3(In cards) make a play or bid that compels another player to make (a particular response); make a play or bid that compels (another player) to make such a response: East could force declarer to ruff another spade
More example sentences
  • Playing a Joker forces every other player to draw a card.
  • If a player's only card is an eight, s/he cannot play it and is forced to draw a card that turn.
  • This in turn could be outbid by three identical cards, forcing the player who exposed the pair to take them back, and so on.



by force of

By means of: exercising authority by force of arms
More example sentences
  • And it was evident we couldn't force democracy on people by force of arms…
  • They would take on the authorities of their day by force of arms and die, gloriously or ingloriously, to be remembered as heroes and patriots.
  • The architects of self-governance reform did not envision the division of powers as a dynamic process, but saw it as a defined, static result to be achieved by force of will and set down in law.

force the bidding

(At an auction) make bids to raise the price rapidly.
Example sentences
  • But in this story of a ravenous New York art dealer trying to force the bidding for a rare Jackson Pollock up to $20m, he makes some telling points.
  • Its edge of a knife stuff as the auction reaches its climax with buyers forcing the bidding higher and higher.
  • Our reports of a recurring scam - bidding on your own Bartercard auctions in order to force the bidding up to your reserve price - have been investigated.

force someone's hand

Make someone do something: the exchange markets may force the Fed’s hand
More example sentences
  • Of course, if things get out of hand, the markets will force the Fed 's hand.
  • One undergraduate stated that college was ‘forcing our hand and exterminating our right to peaceful protest’.
  • Now there is nothing, no one is forcing my hand overtly or covertly.

force the issue

Compel the making of an immediate decision.
Example sentences
  • The trial verdict should have been the end of the matter, but no, some overblown ego has to make a rash decision that might rebound on him just to force the issue of moral righteousness.
  • Lawsuits force the issue, and the results are more immediate than whatever develops from education.
  • This season, through two games, his errors were caused by a lack of awareness, uncertainty in decision-making and forcing the issue.

force the pace

Adopt a fast pace in a race in order to tire out one’s opponents quickly.
Example sentences
  • I'm still very inexperienced and there may come a time when I have the need or the confidence to actually go with the pace or even force the pace.
  • This was a record-breaking activity made possible only by forcing the pace to the point where serious debate and discussion was made impossible by the restricted timescale and the public demand for political action.
  • However it was the Cork champions who were forcing the pace and with Cian O'Connor, Ger Spillane and Finbarr Barry leading the way they started to extend their advantage.

in force

1In great strength or numbers: birdwatchers were out in force
More example sentences
  • Bird watchers and nature lovers assembled in force at Pairc Cois Feile on Sunday morning at 5 am to greet the Dawn Chorus.
in great numbers, in hordes, in full strength
2In effect; valid: the US has over $8 trillion worth of life insurance in force
More example sentences
  • Evidently the conversation is so unpopular that fewer than one-third of Americans have a valid will in force.
  • Users can also refine their search to treaties currently in force treaties or not currently in force, or limit their searches to specific date ranges.

Phrasal verbs


force something down

1Manage to swallow food or drink when one does not want to: I forced down a slice of toast
More example sentences
  • Just remember to rehydrate, force some bland food down and drink some more alcohol as quickly as possible.
  • I was quite literally forcing the food down because I needed to replenish my body.
  • This got a really strong anise flavor that lingered on in my mouth for a while after I forced it down to swallow.
2Compel an aircraft to land: the plane might have been forced down by fighters
More example sentences
  • Later, on sighting another hostile scout, he engaged it and forced it down spinning and out of control.
  • Two days later, when fog forced them down again on the Minho River, they spent the night in their plane.

force oneself on/upon

Rape (a woman).
Example sentences
  • A man accuses a woman of trying to force herself on him, and a woman accuses a man of attacking her.
  • Perhaps it comes from the difference of rape, it's pretty damn hard for a woman to force herself on a man.
  • When Felicia decides to force herself on him, he - like any man too good to be true - turns into a frog.

force something on/upon

Impose or press something on (a person or organization): economic cutbacks were forced on the government
More example sentences
  • We don't want their euro because it's not working in the countries it has been forced upon and it won't work here.
  • But that right does not extend to forcing their views upon others and they should respect the hard-fought freedoms we have in this country.
  • Western societies are guilty of overlooking their own discriminatory practices, while forcing their customs upon immigrants.



Pronunciation: /ˈfôrsəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Once the State begins to alienate people in already deprived areas by detaining without charge, over zealous ID card checks, forceable acquisition of DNA and other biometric data, this is where hatred for the police and the State begins.
  • Mr Blunkett denied that he was seeking some kind of forceable integration in which there were no mono-ethnic communities.
  • One of the jurors was extremely upset when she watched a video of a forceable rape.


Example sentences
  • An interesting thing to note: In Japan a considerable number of bulbs are destined for use by professional flower forcers to be grown as cut flowers for resale, while in the U.S. the majority of Dutch bulbs find their way into home gardens.
  • Moral forcers would try to control their servants' sexuality by instilling a high level of self-control.
  • A gold dragon inscribed itself across her collarbone as if some unknown forcer were drawing it there.


Middle English: from Old French force (noun), forcer (verb), based on Latin fortis 'strong'.

  • forge from Middle English:

    In early use, to forge meant not only to work metal but also had the general sense ‘make, construct’. The word comes from Latin fabricare ‘to fabricate’, from fabrica ‘manufactured object, workshop’ source of fabric. The sense ‘make a fraudulent imitation’ arose early in the word's history. Forge as in forge ahead is a different word. It was first used of ships and may be a variant of force (Middle English) which comes from Latin fortis ‘strong’, source also of fort (Late Middle English).

Words that rhyme with force

coarse, corse, course, divorce, endorse (US indorse), enforce, gorse, hoarse, horse, morse, Norse, perforce, reinforce, sauce, source, torse

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: force

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There are 2 main definitions of force in English:

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force 2

Pronunciation: /fɔːs/

Entry from British & World English dictionary


Northern English
A waterfall.


Late Middle English: from Old Norse fors.

  • forge from Middle English:

    In early use, to forge meant not only to work metal but also had the general sense ‘make, construct’. The word comes from Latin fabricare ‘to fabricate’, from fabrica ‘manufactured object, workshop’ source of fabric. The sense ‘make a fraudulent imitation’ arose early in the word's history. Forge as in forge ahead is a different word. It was first used of ships and may be a variant of force (Middle English) which comes from Latin fortis ‘strong’, source also of fort (Late Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: force

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