Definition of compulsion in US English:



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

    ‘the payment was made under compulsion’
    • ‘We were pretty much promised there would be no compulsion and we would not be forced to save.’
    • ‘Only a few do not compromise their principles under any compulsion.’
    • ‘Some predict that, at that point, the government will be forced to introduce an element of compulsion.’
    • ‘Despite the lack of legal compulsion, many companies already ban smoking.’
    • ‘On the one hand, if it can be established that money is paid over by duress or compulsion, it is recoverable.’
    • ‘The state's only function is as an apparatus of coercion and compulsion.’
    • ‘There are two plausible reasons why voter turnout is down, neither of which would be ‘cured’ by compulsion.’
    • ‘If at all they had called her, it had been under compulsion from either the film directors or the producers.’
    • ‘An alternative is for the government to bring in some sort of compulsion for workers and/or employers to pay into a pension scheme.’
    • ‘The property is not seized, but has to be handed over under compulsion, with refusal generally constituting contempt.’
    • ‘All this compulsion will achieve is to force people to actively abstain or face a fine.’
    • ‘Parliament has since amended the law, in the light of that judgment, to make evidence obtained under compulsion inadmissible.’
    • ‘Unless individuals of all ages save now without compulsion, even the minimum income guarantee may not be available when the time comes.’
    • ‘Voting should be simple, especially in a country that uses compulsion to make people attend polling places.’
    • ‘The government has moved away from compulsion towards economic incentives for couples who have only one child and fines for those who have more.’
    • ‘But whether you are going to do it by compulsion of circumstances or by conviction has to be decided.’
    • ‘If a person has acted under compulsion he is not considered an apostate, his wife is not divorced and his lands are not forfeited.’
    • ‘A number of unions are also in favour of employer compulsion.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘In addition, obsessions and compulsions related to food are common.’
    • ‘Here, Ross explores David's compulsion to overwork and the way his humiliating loss of earnings and status impacts on the family.’
    • ‘Assessments were made using the BDI, and clinician rated obsessions and compulsions for each individual patient.’
    • ‘We left the cinema with three irresistible compulsions.’
    • ‘I don't really have any weird compulsions, though.’
    • ‘He has obsessive thoughts but no compulsions, though he would do anything for the ring.’
    • ‘The value of the SSRIs to treat the obsessions and compulsions associated with TS remains to be resolved.’
    • ‘Rachel's obsessive compulsions are the symptoms of a depressed woman struggling to gain some control over herself and her world.’
    • ‘This consists of recurring obsessions or compulsions.’
    • ‘So the melodramatic passions, the obsessions and the compulsions, seemed to arrive by ambush, like a sucker punch.’
    • ‘It seems to me that toward the end of things, I develop this compulsion to become more thorough.’
    • ‘One person may be plagued by private rituals or compulsions or repetitive thoughts of which no one else is aware.’
    • ‘They can sometimes recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are unrealistic.’
    • ‘Behavioral therapy can be used to lessen unwanted compulsions.’
    • ‘That quirk also gave him repetition compulsions and an obsession about praying.’
    • ‘They understood your compulsions and thought that if nothing else they can at least cry on your shoulder.’
    • ‘Other times, compulsions might seem less clearly related to the obsessive thought.’
    • ‘One thing that may intensify this focus is the vast resources on the Internet available to feed or fuel other addictions or compulsions.’
    • ‘Our real problem is not that we have addictions or compulsions.’
    • ‘I'm thinking, too, of the person whose weird little compulsions drive him and his relations almost mad with frustration.’
    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).