Definition of impel in English:



  • 1 Drive, force, or urge (someone) to do something.

    ‘financial difficulties impelled him to desperate measures’
    [with object and infinitive] ‘a lack of equality impelled the oppressed to fight’
    • ‘Yet the pressures that brought him to this point also impelled him to find a new method, a new outlet for his creativity, and this, too, is reflected in the painting.’
    • ‘At the end of a decade of marriage her household was overflowing with people and objects, impelling her to begin a house hunt.’
    • ‘There are few movies that demand to be seen in the theatre; seeing the vast majority at home on video or DVD is more than adequate, and with the price of admission being what it is, it's a rare movie indeed that impels me to see it in theatre.’
    • ‘The very fact that the 2000 election revealed that public sentiment is moving against their policies will, if anything, impel them to act with greater haste and determination.’
    • ‘Much of what impels him to write is an urge to create something as vast and multifaceted as the universe, to establish in his books a parallel realm, one attuned to his obsessions, mapping out his philosophy of history.’
    • ‘What impels you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs?’
    • ‘She had it for many years but it was only when she recently moved to Wiltshire that she felt impelled to do something with it.’
    • ‘In the pilot, she is interning at a DA's office, on her way to law school, but the dreams of missing children and dead people impel her to use her ‘gift’, so she faxes police offices offering her help.’
    • ‘And if the feeling impels you to protests, organising help, writing letters, even just sending money - so much the better.’
    • ‘It impelled him to record his experience in an autobiographical comic that has swelled to epic proportions over the decades and become his life's work.’
    • ‘Either his quasi-evangelical zeal blinds him to the fact that I'm rather uncomfortable with my role as Real World Sounding Board for his ideas about the North, or else it impels him to carry on regardless.’
    • ‘If so, in either case, you are a better citizen than I have been until the past few days (when a looming deadline, more than a love of freedom, impelled me to become better-informed).’
    • ‘A brainwave impelled me to use my all ten fingers to capture the rhythm of the two.’
    • ‘Hell, if I could get paid for making the things I make because there's something inside me that impels me to do it, I'd be thrilled.’
    • ‘Her hair flopped around as she impelled her end of the see-saw to move up once again.’
    • ‘We must feel our need, the distress that drives and impels us to cry out.’
    • ‘A sense of duty, corny as that might sound, impels me to contest the leadership.’
    • ‘Her fear of the thugs impels her to urge her husband to either join them or move.’
    • ‘That's the countervailing force that impels us to behave in a civilised manner and reach out peaceably to others, even others perceived as alien.’
    • ‘This drive for happiness impels us to seek out the things that make us feel good.’
    force, compel, constrain, oblige, necessitate, require, demand, make, urge, exhort, press, apply pressure, pressure, pressurize, drive, push, spur, prod, goad, incite, prompt, persuade, inspire
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    1. 1.1Drive forward; propel.
      ‘vital energies impel him in unforeseen directions’
      • ‘Rather, it impels and propels, it rebounds, goes on.’
      • ‘The world is moving inexorably, impelled by the march of technology, from systems it understands to systems it only occasionally understands, if at all.’
      • ‘His figures seem to be impelled by an energy that causes them to twist and turn gracefully and to assume oval and spherical forms and compositions.’
      • ‘It was security considerations that impelled the moves, as well as concern for the safety of informal traders.’
      • ‘And, what is more, the film is impelled forward toward the inevitable coupling that Hollywood demands; that coupling becomes the whole point.’
      • ‘But it is the pilgrim's lightness that impels the narrative forward, out of hell and into purgatory.’
      • ‘There is no driving narrative to impel a reader forward, and relatively little to capture and sustain the interest.’
      • ‘Dancers throw themselves against the wall, and over it, in a kind of athletic abandon; the driving rhythm of Ravel's Bolero impels them, and they dance like dervishes, pouring energy into every gesture.’
      • ‘At critical moments, it trips them, or causes them to stumble, or impels them to make a rash, unpremeditated move.’
      • ‘Rather, simply being able to begin to express reactions as mathematical entities with a view to balancing the various reagents impelled chemistry forward.’
      • ‘But oddly, it is also the women, and that damned dress, who impel her forward.’
      propel, drive, drive forwards, move forwards, move, actuate, set in motion, get going, get moving
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘propel’): from Latin impellere, from in- towards + pellere to drive.