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.

3 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #20

    1. My work here is done :D

      Unfortunately, a lot of these words are falling out of use because people think they mean the same thing when they don’t.

      1. tmso

        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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