Meaning of FORCE in English

I. force 1 S2 W1 /fɔːs $ fɔːrs/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ forceful , ↑ forcible , ↑ forced ; noun : ↑ force , ↑ forcefulness ; adverb : ↑ forcefully , ↑ forcibly ; verb : ↑ force ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Latin fortis 'strong' ]


a) [countable usually plural] a group of people who have been trained to do military work for a government or other organization

government/military/defence etc forces

The riots were suppressed by government forces.

He strengthened US forces in the Gulf.

a plan to disarm the rebel forces (=those fighting against the government)

b) the forces British English the army, navy, and ↑ air force

in the forces

Both her sons are in the forces.

c) nuclear/conventional forces ↑ nuclear weapons or ordinary weapons:

short-range nuclear forces

⇨ ↑ air force , ↑ armed forces , ↑ ground forces , ⇨ peacekeeping force at ↑ peacekeeping , ⇨ security forces at ↑ security (1), ⇨ ↑ task force (2)

2 . MILITARY ACTION [uncountable] military action used as a way of achieving your aims:

Peace cannot be imposed by force.

The UN will allow the use of force against aircraft violating the zone.

3 . VIOLENCE [uncountable] violent physical action used to get what you want:

The police used force to overpower the demonstrators.

by force

In the end he had to be thrown out of the house by force.

They kicked the door down using sheer brute force.

4 . PHYSICAL POWER [uncountable] the amount of physical power with which something moves or hits another thing ⇨ strength

force of

The force of the explosion blew out all the windows.

with great/considerable/increasing etc force

He raised his hand and struck her with terrifying force.

5 . NATURAL POWER [uncountable and countable] a natural power or event:

the force of gravity

powerful natural forces such as earthquakes, floods, and drought

the forces of nature

6 . ORGANIZED GROUP [countable usually singular] a group of people who have been trained and organized to do a particular job:

the company’s sales force

the quality of the teaching force

⇨ ↑ police force

7 . STRONG INFLUENCE [countable] something or someone who is powerful and has a lot of influence on the way things happen

the driving force (behind something/somebody) (=the person or thing that makes something happen)

Betty Coward was the driving force behind the project.

a force for change/peace/democracy etc (=someone or something that makes change, peace etc more likely to happen)

Healthy competition is a force for innovation.

He’s a quick and decisive player – a force to be reckoned with (=a person, team, company etc that influences what happens) .

The fall in prices was due to forces beyond their control.

⇨ ↑ market forces

8 . POWERFUL EFFECT [uncountable] the powerful effect that something has on you:

Even after 30 years, the play has lost none of its force.

the force of his personality

9 . join/combine forces (with somebody/something) to work together so that you can deal with a problem, be more powerful etc

join forces to do something

Local schools have joined forces with each other to share facilities.

10 . in force

a) if a law, rule etc is in force, it already exists:

The trade embargo has been in force for a year.

b) in a large group, especially in order to protest about something SYN in large numbers :

Villagers turned out in force to protest about the new road.

11 . come into force/bring something into force if a new law, rule, change etc comes or is brought into force, it starts to exist:

Parking restrictions in the town centre came into force last month.

12 . by/through/out of force of habit because you have always done a particular thing and it is difficult to change:

I get up at 6 o'clock every day out of force of habit.

13 . by/through force of circumstance(s) British English if something happens by force of circumstance, events outside your control make it happen

14 . WIND

a) force 8/9/10 etc a unit for measuring the strength of the wind

b) gale/hurricane force wind extremely strong wind that does a lot of damage

15 . POLICE the force a word meaning the ↑ police force , used especially by police officers

16 . the forces of good/evil etc literary people or things that increase the amount of good or bad in the world:

the battle against the forces of evil

⇨ ↑ labour force , ↑ tour de force , ↑ workforce

• • •



▪ the armed forces (=a country’s military organizations, including the army, navy, and air force)

Israel refused to withdraw its armed forces from the area.

▪ American/British/French etc forces

Several battles took place involving American forces.

▪ government forces (=soldiers fighting for the government)

Government forces reportedly shot dead 300 unarmed civilians.

▪ security forces (=who protect a country against people who are fighting the government)

The government claimed that the security forces had destroyed the rebels’ headquarters.

▪ rebel forces (=who are fighting against the government)

The village was attacked by rebel forces.

▪ military forces

He served with the military forces during the war.

▪ a defence force

Should the European Union have its own defence force?

▪ enemy forces

Enemy forces now occupy substantial areas of the city.

▪ a peacekeeping force

A large UN peacekeeping force is being assembled.

▪ special forces (=who are specially trained to fight against guerilla or terrorist groups)

Special forces were employed to support the local army.

■ phrases

▪ be in the forces

Her husband is in the forces.

■ verbs

▪ join the forces (=become a soldier, sailor etc)

He was too young to join the forces when the war broke out.

▪ withdraw your forces

Expecting the Allies to attack again, he began to withdraw his forces eastward.

II. force 2 S2 W1 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ forceful , ↑ forcible , ↑ forced ; noun : ↑ force , ↑ forcefulness ; adverb : ↑ forcefully , ↑ forcibly ; verb : ↑ force ]

1 . MAKE SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING to make someone do something they do not want to do ⇨ persuade

force somebody to do something

Government troops have forced the rebels to surrender.

Due to the high cost of borrowing, many companies have been forced to close.

force yourself to do something

I had to force myself to get up this morning.

force somebody/something into (doing) something

women who are forced into arranged marriages

Bad health forced him into taking early retirement.

2 . MAKE SOMEBODY/SOMETHING MOVE [always + adverb/preposition] to make someone or something move in a particular direction or into a different position, especially through or using great strength SYN push :

Westerly gales forced the ship off course.

Firemen entering the building were forced back by flames.

She tried to keep the door shut but the man forced it open.

3 . force your way through/into etc something ( also force your way in/out/past etc ) to push very hard in order to get somewhere:

The doctor forced his way through the crowd.

Demonstrators forced their way past.

4 . MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN to make something happen or change, especially more quickly than planned or expected:

the unfortunate events that forced his resignation

We need to force the pace on alternative energy policies.

force prices/interest rates etc down/up

The effect will be to increase unemployment and force down wages.

5 . force a door/lock/window to open a door etc using physical strength, often causing damage:

I forced the lock on the cupboard to see what was inside.

6 . force the issue to do something that makes it necessary for someone to make decisions or take action, instead of waiting to see what happens:

Polly decided to force the issue by demanding an explanation.

7 . force sb’s hand to make someone do something unwillingly or earlier than they had intended:

They’re reluctant to sell the house yet but the right offer could force their hand.

8 . force a smile/laugh etc to make yourself smile, laugh etc even though you feel upset or annoyed

• • •


▪ force to make someone do something they do not want to do. Used when people or situations make you do something:

They were beaten and forced to confess to crimes they had not committed.


The drought forced millions of farmers to sell their cattle.

▪ make to force someone to do something by using pressure, threats, or violence. Make somebody do something is more common than force somebody to do something in everyday English:

Her parents disapproved of Alex and they made her stop seeing him.


Two men with guns made the staff hand over the money.

▪ pressure ( also pressurize British English ) to try to force someone to do something by making them feel that they should do it:

Some employers pressure their staff into working very long hours.


She felt they were trying to pressurize her into getting married.

▪ blackmail to force someone to give you money or do what you want by threatening to tell embarrassing secrets about them:

She tried to blackmail him with photographs of them together at the hotel.

▪ compel [usually passive] formal to force someone to do something using official power or authority. Also used when someone has to do something because of their situation:

The town was surrounded and compelled to surrender.


I felt compelled to offer them some kind of explanation.


You are compelled by law to carry an ID card.

▪ coerce /kəʊˈɜːs $ ˈkoʊɜːrs/ formal to force someone to do something by threatening them:

Local people were coerced into joining the rebel army.

▪ be obliged to do something formal if someone is obliged to do something, they must do it because it is the law or the rule, or because of the situation they are in:

You are not obliged to say anything which may harm your defence in court.


They were obliged to sell the land.

force something ↔ back phrasal verb

to stop yourself from showing that you are upset or frightened, especially with difficulty:

Janet forced back her tears.

force something ↔ down phrasal verb

1 . to make yourself eat or drink something, although you do not want it:

I forced down a piece of stale bread.

2 . to make a plane land by threatening to attack it:

The hijacked plane was forced down by military jets.

force something on/upon somebody phrasal verb

to make someone do or accept something even though they do not want to:

It’s no good trying to force a diet on someone.

people who try to force their own views on you

force something ↔ out of somebody phrasal verb

to make someone tell you something by asking them many times, threatening them etc:

I wasn’t going to tell Matt but he forced it out of me.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.