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


1 noun
force1 S3 W1


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)

the forces

PM British English the army, navy, and air force
in the forces
Both her sons are in the forces.

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)

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.


[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.

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.

natural power

[uncountable and countable] a natural power or event:
the force of gravity
powerful natural forces such as earthquakes, floods, and drought

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

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

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

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.

in force

a) SCL 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 [= in large numbers]:
Villagers turned out in force to protest about the new road.

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.

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 from force of habit.

by/through force of circumstance(s)

British English if something happens by force of circumstance, events outside your control make it happen



force 8/9/10 etc

TM a unit for measuring the strength of the wind

gale/hurricane force wind

DN extremely strong wind that does a lot of damage


the force

SCP a word meaning the police force, used especially by police officers

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

Dictionary results for "force"
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