Definition of compulsion in English:



  • 1The action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.

    ‘the payment was made under compulsion’
    • ‘The government has moved away from compulsion towards economic incentives for couples who have only one child and fines for those who have more.’
    • ‘Parliament has since amended the law, in the light of that judgment, to make evidence obtained under compulsion inadmissible.’
    • ‘On the one hand, if it can be established that money is paid over by duress or compulsion, it is recoverable.’
    • ‘Unless individuals of all ages save now without compulsion, even the minimum income guarantee may not be available when the time comes.’
    • ‘The state's only function is as an apparatus of coercion and compulsion.’
    • ‘A number of unions are also in favour of employer compulsion.’
    • ‘Despite the lack of legal compulsion, many companies already ban smoking.’
    • ‘All this compulsion will achieve is to force people to actively abstain or face a fine.’
    • ‘But whether you are going to do it by compulsion of circumstances or by conviction has to be decided.’
    • ‘An alternative is for the government to bring in some sort of compulsion for workers and/or employers to pay into a pension scheme.’
    • ‘There are two plausible reasons why voter turnout is down, neither of which would be ‘cured’ by compulsion.’
    • ‘Voting should be simple, especially in a country that uses compulsion to make people attend polling places.’
    • ‘Only a few do not compromise their principles under any compulsion.’
    • ‘We were pretty much promised there would be no compulsion and we would not be forced to save.’
    • ‘Some predict that, at that point, the government will be forced to introduce an element of compulsion.’
    • ‘The property is not seized, but has to be handed over under compulsion, with refusal generally constituting contempt.’
    • ‘If at all they had called her, it had been under compulsion from either the film directors or the producers.’
    • ‘If a person has acted under compulsion he is not considered an apostate, his wife is not divorced and his lands are not forfeited.’
    • ‘He is prepared to contemplate compulsion in pension saving.’
    • ‘Penman said she was in favour of increasing awareness of the importance of languages, but concerned about the removal of compulsion.’
    obligation, constraint, force, coercion, duress, pressure, pressurization, enforcement, oppression, intimidation
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  • 2An irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one's conscious wishes.

    ‘he felt a compulsion to babble on about what had happened’
    • ‘He has obsessive thoughts but no compulsions, though he would do anything for the ring.’
    • ‘We left the cinema with three irresistible compulsions.’
    • ‘Assessments were made using the BDI, and clinician rated obsessions and compulsions for each individual patient.’
    • ‘Our real problem is not that we have addictions or compulsions.’
    • ‘That quirk also gave him repetition compulsions and an obsession about praying.’
    • ‘Here, Ross explores David's compulsion to overwork and the way his humiliating loss of earnings and status impacts on the family.’
    • ‘One person may be plagued by private rituals or compulsions or repetitive thoughts of which no one else is aware.’
    • ‘One thing that may intensify this focus is the vast resources on the Internet available to feed or fuel other addictions or compulsions.’
    • ‘In addition, obsessions and compulsions related to food are common.’
    • ‘Other times, compulsions might seem less clearly related to the obsessive thought.’
    • ‘They can sometimes recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are unrealistic.’
    • ‘This consists of recurring obsessions or compulsions.’
    • ‘I'm thinking, too, of the person whose weird little compulsions drive him and his relations almost mad with frustration.’
    • ‘Behavioral therapy can be used to lessen unwanted compulsions.’
    • ‘Rachel's obsessive compulsions are the symptoms of a depressed woman struggling to gain some control over herself and her world.’
    • ‘They understood your compulsions and thought that if nothing else they can at least cry on your shoulder.’
    • ‘I don't really have any weird compulsions, though.’
    • ‘It seems to me that toward the end of things, I develop this compulsion to become more thorough.’
    • ‘The value of the SSRIs to treat the obsessions and compulsions associated with TS remains to be resolved.’
    • ‘So the melodramatic passions, the obsessions and the compulsions, seemed to arrive by ambush, like a sucker punch.’
    urge, impulse, need, necessity, desire, longing, motivation, drive
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Late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin compulsio(n-), from compellere ‘to drive, force’ (see compel).