from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The capacity to do work or cause physical change; energy, strength, or active power.
  • noun Power made operative against resistance; exertion.
  • noun The use of physical power or violence to compel or restrain.
  • noun Intellectual power or vigor, especially as conveyed in writing or speech.
  • noun Moral strength.
  • noun A capacity for affecting the mind or behavior; efficacy.
  • noun One that possesses such capacity.
  • noun A body of persons or other resources organized or available for a certain purpose.
  • noun A person or group capable of influential action.
  • noun Military strength.
  • noun A unit of a nation's military personnel, especially one deployed into combat.
  • noun A vector quantity that tends to produce an acceleration of a body in the direction of its application. Newton's second law of motion states that a free body accelerates in the direction of the applied force and that its acceleration is directly proportional to the force and inversely proportional to its mass.
  • noun Baseball A force play.
  • transitive verb To compel through pressure or necessity.
  • transitive verb To gain by the use of force or coercion.
  • transitive verb To move or effect against resistance or inertia.
  • transitive verb To inflict or impose relentlessly.
  • transitive verb To put undue strain on.
  • transitive verb To increase or accelerate (a pace, for example) to the maximum.
  • transitive verb To produce with effort and against one's will.
  • transitive verb To use (language) with obvious lack of ease and naturalness.
  • transitive verb To move, open, or clear by force.
  • transitive verb To break down or open by force.
  • transitive verb To rape.
  • transitive verb To induce change in (a complex system) by changing one of its parameters.
  • transitive verb Botany To cause to grow or mature by artificially accelerating normal processes.
  • transitive verb To put (a runner) out on a force play.
  • transitive verb To allow (a run) to be scored by walking a batter when the bases are loaded.
  • transitive verb Games To cause an opponent to play (a particular card).
  • idiom (force (oneself) on/upon) To rape.
  • idiom (force (someone's) hand) To force to act or speak prematurely or unwillingly.
  • idiom (in force) In full strength; in large numbers.
  • idiom (in force) In effect; operative.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To act effectively upon by force, physical, mental, or moral, in any manner; impel by force; compel; constrain.
  • To overcome or overthrow by force; accomplish one's purpose upon or in regard to by force or compulsion; compel to succumb, give way, or yield.
  • To effect by effort or a special or unusual application of force; bring about or promote by some artificial means: as, to force the passage of a river against an enemy; to force a jest.
  • To cause to grow, develop, or mature under unnaturally stimulating or favorable conditions.
  • To impose or impress by force; compel the acceptance or endurance of: with on or upon: as, to force one's company or views on another; to force conviction on the mind.
  • To furnish with a force; man; garrison.
  • To put in force; make binding; enforce.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin fortia, from neuter pl. of Latin fortis, strong; see bhergh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse fors ("waterfall"). Cognate with Swedish fors ("waterfall")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English force, fors, forse, from Old French force, from Late Latin fortia, from neuter plural of Latin fortis ("strong").


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  • "And Wilson gave no quarter. To open a Liberty Loan drive, Wilson demanded, 'Force! Force to the utmost! Force without stint or limit! the righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world, and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust.'"

    —John M. Barry, The Great Influenza (NY: Penguin Books, 2004), 128

    February 14, 2009