Definition of repel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rɪˈpɛl/

verb (repels, repelling, repelled)

[with object]
1Drive or force (an attack or attacker) back or away: government units sought to repel the rebels
More example sentences
  • McNamara and Blight argue that the U.S. should pledge not to use force unilaterally except to repel an attack, forgoing sovereign rights in favor of the collective security of a multilateral organization.
  • In the physical world, once an attacker is repelled, you follow up with counterattack.
  • In the film's climactic sequence, she turns into a Ninja fighter who repels the attacks of a group of dancing Israeli sharpshooters.
fight off, repulse, drive back/away, put to flight, force back, beat back, push back, thrust back;
hold off, ward off, fend off, stand off, stave off, parry, keep at bay, keep at arm's length;
foil, check, frustrate;
British  see off
informal send packing
archaic rebut
1.1(Of a magnetic pole or electric field) force (something similarly magnetized or charged) away from itself: electrically charged objects attract or repel one another [no object]: like poles repel and unlike poles attract
More example sentences
  • Many everyday objects, including water and wood, are weakly diamagnetic - that is, they're repelled by magnetic fields.
  • It repels itself from the magnet it was once attracted to.
1.2(Of a substance) resist mixing with or be impervious to (another substance): boots with good-quality leather uppers to repel moisture
More example sentences
  • The mixture is an excellent material for coatings, according to Parris, because the zein portion resists grease, and the fatty acids repel water.
  • The essence of Senefelder's discovery was that if the stone is written on with a grease-based ink and then wetted, the ink will repel the water, which in turn repels the printing ink from all but the marks first made.
  • The glass, coated with microscopic chemical coatings, has properties which repel moisture and dirt, allowing them to be washed away during normal rainy weather.
be impervious to, be impermeable to, keep out, be resistant to, resist
2Be repulsive or distasteful to: she was repelled by the permanent smell of drink on his breath
More example sentences
  • Then I asked them each to pick out one painting that he or she couldn't stand and tell me what it was about the picture that repelled or repulsed him or her.
  • But there is, none the less, something in popular culture that repels him.
  • The ritual, which includes the mixing of human ashes and blood then drinking it, might repel us, but our reaction sharpens the real distinction and gulf between the savages' lives and ours.
revolt, disgust, repulse, sicken, nauseate, make someone feel sick, turn someone's stomach, be repulsive to, be extremely distasteful to, be repugnant to, make shudder, make someone's flesh creep, make someone's skin crawl, make someone's gorge rise, put off, offend, horrify
informal turn off, give someone the creeps, give someone the heebie-jeebies, make someone want to throw up
North American informal gross out
3 formal Refuse to accept (something, especially an argument or theory): the alleged right of lien led by the bankrupt’s solicitor was repelled



Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, perhaps my tech-savvy readers can weigh in on a question that is currently fascinating the technophobe journalists in my office: do those electronic plug-in pest repellers actually work?
  • This neglects the possibility of domain formation, of specific molecular interactions via stickers and repellers, and of membrane undulations.
  • Paintings of the white tiger, considered a symbol of auspiciousness and repeller of evil, were once seen in every home and they were looked upon as benevolent messengers of the mountain spirit.


Late Middle English: from Latin repellere, from re- 'back' + pellere 'to drive'.

  • appeal from Middle English:

    Recorded first in legal contexts, appeal comes via Old French from Latin appellare ‘to address, accost, call upon’. Peal (Late Middle English) is a shortening of appeal, perhaps from the call to prayers of a ringing bell. The base of appeal is Latin pellere ‘to drive’, found also in compel ‘drive together’; dispel ‘drive apart’; expel ‘drive out’; impel ‘drive towards’; and impulsive; propel ‘drive forwards’; repel ‘drive back’, all Late Middle English. It is also the source of the pulse (Middle English) that you can feel on your wrist and is related to push (Middle English). The other kind of pulse, an edible seed, is a different word, which comes via Old French from Latin puls ‘porridge of meal or pulse’, related to the sources of both pollen and powder.

Words that rhyme with repel

Adele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, bagatelle, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, cell, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, sell, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, well, yell

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: repel

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words