1 noun
a) (C) a group of people who have been trained to fight in a war: forces loyal to President Aquino | a highly efficient fighting force
b) the forces the army, navy, and air force: Both her sons are in the forces.
c) (U) military action used as a way of achieving your aims: After World War I the use of force to settle conflicts was prohibited. | by force (of arms): The Serbs were accused of imposing these boundaries by force.
2 VIOLENCE (U) violent physical action used to get what you want: The question is whether the police used reasonable force when arresting him. | by force: Her ex-husband tried to get the children back by force.
a) (U) the amount of physical power that is used or produced when something moves or hits something else: waves hitting the rocks with tremendous force | The force of the explosion blew out all the windows. | brute force (=simple physical force): They kicked the door open by sheer brute force.
b) (C, U) technical power that produces movement in another object, for example by pulling it or pushing it: the force of gravity
4 STRONG INFLUENCE (C) something or someone that has a strong influence on the way events develop, on people's lives, or on the way people think: Mrs Thatcher is no longer the force she once was in British politics. | driving force (=person or thing that has the strongest influence on the way things happen): The need for short-term profits seem to be the driving force behind these mergers. | a force for peace/progress/good etc (=someone whose actions make peace, progress etc more likely to happen) | a force to be reckoned with (=a company, organization etc with a lot of power and influence): Within just a few months, Microsoft became a force to be reckoned with in the global software market. | forces beyond sb's control: The fall in coffee prices was due to forces beyond their control. | the forces of evil/oppression: the fight against the forces of oppression
5 POWERFUL EFFECT (U) the powerful effect of what someone says or does: Even after 30 years, the play has lost none of its force. | the force of public opinion
6 ORGANIZED GROUP (C) a group of people who have been trained and organized for a specific purpose: the company's sales force
7 join/combine forces to join together so that you can deal with a problem, defend yourselves etc: Local churches have joined forces to help the homeless.
(+ with): The Nationalists joined forces with the Communists.
8 LAW/RULE in force
a) if a law or a rule is in force, it exists and must be obeyed : come into force (=start to operate): The new law on drink-driving comes into force next month.
b) in a large group, especially in order to protest about something: Villagers turned out in force to protest about the new road.
9 by/from force of habit if you do something by force of habit, you do it because you have always done the same thing in the past
10 force of circumstance(s) the effect of a situation on what you do or decide: Force of circumstance compelled him to leave Italy
11 the forces of nature natural forces such as wind, rain, or earthquakes
a) force 8/9/10 etc a unit for measuring the strength of the wind
b) gale/hurricane force wind extremely strong wind that does a lot of damage
13 POLICE the force a word meaning the police force, used especially by police officers: He resigned after 17 years in the force.
—see also: labour force, task force, tour de force 2 verb (T)
a) to make someone do something they do not want to do, especially by threatening them : force sb to do sth: Government troops have forced the rebels to surrender. | force sb: Nobody forced me - it was my own decision. | force sb/sth into doing sth: These women are forced into accepting low-paid jobs
b) if a situation forces you to do something, it makes you do it, even though you do not want to : force sb to do sth: The high cost of borrowing is forcing many companies to close. | force sb into (doing) sth: Bad health forced her into taking early retirement.
2 force yourself (to do sth)
a) to make yourself do something that you do not want to do: I forced myself to get out of bed.
b) BrE spoken used when trying to persuade someone to do something that they seem unwilling to do, because you know they will enjoy it: "I couldn't eat another thing!" "Go on! Force yourself!"
3 MAKE SB/STH MOVE to make someone or something move in a particular direction or into a different position, especially using physical force : force sth into/out of: Firemen attempted to enter the building but were forced back by the flames.
4 force your way in/out/through etc to push and use physical force to get into, out of, or through something: The doctor forced his way through the crowd.
5 OPEN STH to use physical force to open something : force sth open: Robbers forced open the safe in the manager's office | force the lock/window/door (=open it using force, often causing damage)
6 force sb's hand to make someone do something unwillingly or earlier than they had intended: We didn't want to raise our prices but the fall in the dollar forced our hand.
7 force the issue to do something that makes it necessary for someone to make decisions or take action, instead of waiting for a situation to develop: Rather than trying to force the issue, we gave them another day to decide.
8 force a smile/laugh etc to make yourself smile, laugh etc even though you feel upset or annoyed
9 force the pace to make the other runners in a race have to run faster by running ahead of them
force sth back phrasal verb (T) to try hard and stop yourself from showing your emotions: Janet forced back her tears. force sth down phrasal verb (T)
1 to make yourself swallow something that you do not want eat or drink: I managed to force down a piece of stale bread.
2 to make a plane have to land by threatening to attack it
force sth on/upon sb phrasal verb (T) to make someone accept something even though they do not want it: children with piano lessons forced upon them force sth out of sb phrasal verb (T) to make someone tell you something by asking them many times, threatening them etc: I wasn't going to tell him but he forced it out of me.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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