Co*erce" (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Coerced (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Coercing.] [L. coercere; co- + arcere to shut up, to press together. See Ark.]
To restrain by force, especially by law or authority; to repress; to curb.
Punishments are manifold, that they may coerce this profligate sort.
To compel or constrain to any action; as, to coerce a man to vote for a certain candidate.
To compel or enforce; as, to coerce obedience.
Syn. -- To Coerce, Compel. To compel denotes to urge on by force which cannot be resisted. The term aplies equally to physical and moral force; as, compelled by hunger; compelled adverse circumstances; compelled by parental affection. Coerce had at first only the negative sense of checking or restraining by force; as, to coerce a bad man by punishments or a prisoner with fetters. It has now gained a positive sense., viz., that of driving a person into the performance of some act which is required of him by another; as, to coerce a man to sign a contract; to coerce obedience. In this sense (which is now the prevailing one), coerce differs but little from compel, and yet there is a distinction between them. Coercion is usually acomplished by indirect means, as threats and intimidation, physical force being more rarely employed in coercing.
© Webster 1913.