From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Usage: To compel denotes to urge on by force which cannot be resisted. The term aplies equally to physical and moral force; as, compelled by hunger; compelled adverse circumstances; compelled by parental affection. Coerce had at first only the negative sense of checking or restraining by force; as, to coerce a bad man by punishments or a prisoner with fetters. It has now gained a positive sense., viz., that of driving a person into the performance of some act which is required of him by another; as, to coerce a man to sign a contract; to coerce obedience. In this sense (which is now the prevailing one), coerce differs but little from compel, and yet there is a distinction between them. Coercion is usually acomplished by indirect means, as threats and intimidation, physical force being more rarely employed in coercing.
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