July 18, 2012
compel (verb)
\kum-PEL\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : to cause to do something by the use of physical, moral, or mental pressure : force2 : exact, extort
How do you use it?
"How came these two men -- if there were two men -- into an empty house? What has become of the cabman who drove them? How could one man compel another to take poison?" (Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet)
Are you a word wiz?

"Compel" has the Latin word "pellere," meaning "to drive," as its root. Which words below do you think also derive from "pellere"?

We hope that you were compelled to choose answer D. "Compel," "appeal," and "pulse" all come from the Latin root "pellere." "Compel" comes from the Latin verb "compellere," meaning literally "to drive or urge with," while the verb "appeal" comes from the Latin word "appellere," meaning literally "to drive to." "Appellare" passed through French to become the English word "appeal," which originally meant "to accuse." The noun "pulse," which refers to a regular beat (like a heartbeat), comes from "pulsus," the noun form of "pellere." All three of these descendants of "pellare" first appeared in English during the 14th century.
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