Wrong Word Wednesday #20

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television

Compel(led) / Impel(led)

Two more words that are similar in meaning but still different – it is the agency that is different. It is not one I see very often but looking around linguistic sites writing advice resources, it seems common enough. I have seen it though, blog writers saying that they were compelled to write a blog post on a certain subject when they meant impelled. Both imply a sense of having to do something but only one of these means “forced”.

Compel – Denotes a level of force. You must do something because you have no choice in the matter.
Impel – No force is included but there is a strong feeling of a desire to do something.

I am impelled to write Wrong Word Wednesday to counter the poor use of English language.

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3 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #20

      1. You know, I’ve think I’ve seen it used in the opposite manner. At least, in fantasy fiction, where a spell “impells” someone to do something. Needless to say, next time I use either word, I’ll look them up in a dictionary to make sure I’m using ’em right.

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