These verbs mean to cause a person or thing to follow a prescribed or dictated course. Force, the most general, usually implies the exertion of physical power or the operation of circumstances that permit no options: Tear gas forced the fugitives out of their hiding place.Compel applies especially to an act dictated by one in authority: Say nothing unless you're compelled to.Coerce invariably implies the use of strength or harsh measures in securing compliance: “The man of genius rules . . . by persuading an efficient minority to coerce an indifferent and self-indulgent majority” (James Fitzjames Stephen). Constrain suggests that one is bound to a course of action by physical or moral means or by the operation of compelling circumstances: “I will never be by violence constrained to do anything” (Elizabeth I). Oblige implies the operation of authority, necessity, or moral or ethical considerations: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do” (Mark Twain). Obligate applies when compliance is enforced by a legal contract or by the dictates of one's conscience or sense of propriety: I am obligated to repay the loan.
The recognition of man's free will as something capable of influencing historical events, that is, as not subject to laws, is the same for history as the recognition of a free force moving the heavenly bodies would be for astronomy.
Here and there a couple of bees, by force of habit and custom cleaning out the brood cells, with efforts beyond their strength laboriously drag away a dead bee or bumblebee without knowing why they do it.
The blacksmiths from a neighboring smithy, hearing the sounds of revelry in the tavern and supposing it to have been broken into, wished to force their way in too and a fight in the porch had resulted.
But he also knew (or rather felt at the bottom of his heart) that by resigning himself now to the force of circumstances and to those who were guiding him, he was not only doing nothing wrong, but was doing something very important--more important than anything he had ever done in his life.
He knew he was in these men's power, that only by force had they brought him there, that force alone gave them the right to demand answers to their questions, and that the sole object of that assembly was to inculpate him.