Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Therese asked about words ending in the letter sequence –p-e-l-. The ones that are intimately connected track back to a Latin verb, pellĕre. It means to drive or thrust, an action verb.

Certain words, such as chapel and gospel, don’t come from the same Latin word even though they share the same letter sequence. The ones that do tend to be relatively short, and they all begin with an opening preposition.

  • compel: To constrain or force < com-, together + pellĕre, to drive >
  • dispel:   To drive away in different directions or in scattered order  <  dis-, in different directions + pellĕre, to drive >
  • expel: To drive or thrust out; to eject by force < ex-, out + pellĕre, to drive or thrust >
  • impel: To drive, force, or constrain (a person) to some action   < im-, in + pellĕre, to drive
  • propel: To drive or push forwards    < prō-, forward + pellĕre, to drive >
  • repel: To reject or thrust away   < re-, back + pellĕre, to drive >
Also connected is the now obsolete interpel, to interrupt (a person) in speaking < inter, between + pellĕre, to drive >

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints