Definition of force noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



; fɔːrs

violent action

1 [uncountable] violent physical action used to obtain or achieve somethingThe release of the hostages could not be achieved without the use of force.The rioters were taken away by force.The ultimatum contained the threat of military force.We will achieve much more by persuasion than by brute force.plans to seize power by force of arms(= by military force)

physical strength

2 [uncountable] the physical strength of something that is shown as it hits something elsethe force of the blow/explosion/collisionThe shopping centre took the full force of the blast.She hits the ball with amazing force for someone so small.

strong effect

3 [uncountable] the strong effect or influence of somethingThey realized the force of her argument.He controlled himself by sheer force of will.She spoke with force and deliberation.

somebody/something with power

4 [countable] a person or thing that has a lot of power or influenceeconomic/market forcesthe forces of good/evilRon is the driving force(= the person who has the most influence) behind the project.She's a force to be reckoned with(= a person who has a lot of power and influence and should therefore be treated seriously).The expansion of higher education should be a powerful force for change.Television has become a major force in American political life.He was finally defeated by forces beyond his control.


5 [uncountable] the authority of somethingThese guidelines do not have the force of law.The court ruled that these standards have force in English law.The culprits must expect to face the full force of the law.

group of people

6 [countable + singular or plural verb] a group of people who have been organized for a particular purposea member of the sales forceA large proportion of the labour force(= all the people who work in a particular company, area, etc.) is unskilled. see also workforce


7 [countable + singular or plural verb] a group of people who have been trained to protect other people, usually by using weaponsa member of the security forcesrebel/government forcesa peace-keeping force see also air force, police force, task force8 the forces [plural] (British English) the army, navy and air forceallied forces see also the armed forces9 forces [plural] the weapons and soldiers that an army, etc. has, considered as things that may be usedstrategic nuclear forces.


10 the force [singular] (British English) the police forceHe joined the force twenty years ago.


11 [countable, uncountable] an effect that causes things to move in a particular wayThe moon exerts a force on the earth.the force of gravitymagnetic/centrifugal force

of wind

12 [countable, usually singular] a unit for measuring the strength of the winda force 9 galea gale force wind
see also tour de force

bring something into force

to cause a law, rule, etc. to start being used
They are hoping to bring the new legislation into force before the end of the year.

come/enter into force

(of a law, rule, etc.) to start being usedWhen do the new regulations come into force?

force of habit

if you do something from or out of force of habit, you do it automatically and in a particular way because you have always done it that way in the past
It's force of habit that gets me out of bed at 6.15 each morning.

the forces of nature

the power of the wind, rain, etc, especially when it causes damage or harm
They were fighting a losing battle against the forces of nature.

in force

1 (of people) in large numbersProtesters turned out in force.2 (of a law, rule, etc.) being usedThe new regulations are now in force.

join/combine forces (with somebody)

to work together in order to achieve a shared aim
The two firms joined forces to win the contract.
more at a spent force at spent