Definition of repel in English:


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transitive verbtransitive verb repels, transitive verb repelling, transitive verb repelled

[with object]
  • 1Drive or force (an attack or attacker) back or away.

    ‘they sought to repel the enemy with their machine guns’
    • ‘McNamara and Blight argue that the U.S. should pledge not to use force unilaterally except to repel an attack, forgoing sovereign rights in favor of the collective security of a multilateral organization.’
    • ‘In the physical world, once an attacker is repelled, you follow up with counterattack.’
    • ‘In the film's climactic sequence, she turns into a Ninja fighter who repels the attacks of a group of dancing Israeli sharpshooters.’
    • ‘Peters is hard at work repelling the attackers, thrilled, he claims, to be a contrarian again.’
    • ‘Canevaro figured his team's quick response repelled the attackers and saved lives.’
    • ‘If these levels undergo and repel attacks, they instill even more confidence in the traders who've defended the barrier and, as such, are likely to generate strong profitable countermoves.’
    • ‘As time passes with the city's inhabitants weakening due to lack of food and the Mahdi's forces isolating the city, Gordon prepares Khartoum to repel invasion, all the time still hopeful of British intervention.’
    • ‘He doesn't have the build for the Jackie Chan stunts he uses to repel the onslaught of his friends in crime-fighting, and he doesn't bear himself with heroic presence.’
    • ‘Naturally Earth repels the attackers and defeats them just before Mars implodes.’
    • ‘With mounting despair, he makes plans to repel the inevitable onslaught.’
    • ‘As the indigenous people in the video game, you're tasked with repelling the invaders and driving them back into the sea.’
    • ‘They manage to defend themselves and repel the androids that have attacked them.’
    • ‘Lt. Lane had never been required to repel any kind of onslaught since he'd taken command, but he was a well-trained Federation officer and had a masterful knowledge of all the defense tactics at his disposal.’
    • ‘Throughout the entire federation campaign, a couple of torpedo turrets were capable of repelling every attack the enemy mounted.’
    • ‘Finally his regiment successfully repels a charge by the enemy, and Henry feels relief and elation at his feeling of success.’
    • ‘Furthermore, if the lifeboat owner, Jones, is being aggressed against by Smith, and has the right to prosecute Smith later on, he therefore also has the right to use force to repel Smith's aggression on the spot.’
    • ‘It's a bright idea to have crooked cops besiege the police station so that the good cops and their prisoners have to join forces to repel the invaders.’
    • ‘This leads to actually repelling waves of enemy soldiers and tanks that roll out of the forest towards you.’
    • ‘Later on, after the invading French army has been repelled, Lear and Cordelia have been taken captive and Edmund gives these chilling words to his captain.’
    fight off, repulse, drive away, drive back, put to flight, force back, beat back, push back, thrust back
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    1. 1.1with object (of a magnetic pole or electric field) force (something similarly magnetized or charged) away from itself.
      ‘electrically charged objects attract or repel one another’
      • ‘like poles repel and unlike poles attract’
      • ‘Many everyday objects, including water and wood, are weakly diamagnetic - that is, they're repelled by magnetic fields.’
      • ‘It repels itself from the magnet it was once attracted to.’
    2. 1.2(of a substance) resist mixing with or be impervious to (another substance)
      ‘boots with good-quality leather uppers to repel moisture’
      • ‘The mixture is an excellent material for coatings, according to Parris, because the zein portion resists grease, and the fatty acids repel water.’
      • ‘The essence of Senefelder's discovery was that if the stone is written on with a grease-based ink and then wetted, the ink will repel the water, which in turn repels the printing ink from all but the marks first made.’
      • ‘The glass, coated with microscopic chemical coatings, has properties which repel moisture and dirt, allowing them to be washed away during normal rainy weather.’
      • ‘Unlike other corn proteins, which are water soluble, zein repels water, making it an ideal coating material.’
      • ‘Further along, bioengineering may open the door to fabrics that constantly repel dirt while secreting the fragrances of your choice.’
      • ‘Noddy terns, in contrast, have plumage that repels water better, and they are often seen flopping onto the sea, able to rest comfortably far from land.’
      • ‘A young scientist invents a material that is indestructible and repels dirt.’
      • ‘And I got this idea that I would use India ink on acetate and make a brush-stroke, because the acetate kind of repels the ink.’
      be impervious to, be impermeable to, keep out, be resistant to, resist
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  • 2Be repulsive or distasteful to.

    ‘she was repelled by the permanent smell of drink on his breath’
    • ‘Then I asked them each to pick out one painting that he or she couldn't stand and tell me what it was about the picture that repelled or repulsed him or her.’
    • ‘But there is, none the less, something in popular culture that repels him.’
    • ‘She is repelled by the completely novel and anti-societal idea of it, and loses her patience.’
    • ‘At first he was repelled by the air of luxury and corruption, but then enjoyed it.’
    • ‘The contempt for outsiders repelled his sister-in-law - and drove her to seek a freer life for herself and her daughters.’
    • ‘Shostakovich's music is certainly not at all conventionally beautiful or appealing, and not a few critics and listeners are repelled by its banalities, raucous sonorities and obsessive rhythmic drive.’
    • ‘If presumably neither, the concert certainly was distinctively Pogorelich - an attribute that will continue to repel distracters and lure fans from all over the country.’
    • ‘But he was repelled by the second-hand religiosity of Comte's strange invention.’
    • ‘Bernard is both enraptured and repelled by this snake.’
    • ‘The hermetic obscurantism of these older texts repels a more casual reader, steeped as they are in poststructuralist theory and remote Marxist anthropology.’
    • ‘We all have reason to be shocked, shamed and repelled by the abuse of children.’
    • ‘The sight and sounds of Tommy's thrusts shock and repel us; it's almost too much.’
    • ‘Such masculinity and Japaneseness attract and repel him at the same time.’
    • ‘For listeners, this rendering of a concert experience is ‘the kernel of enjoyment that simultaneously attracts and repels us’.’
    • ‘This contempt repels Marianne, who announces she will be going back to Stockholm.’
    • ‘Sometimes, he's too passionate for his own good, repelling the very audience he's trying to communicate with.’
    • ‘Articles appeared in the trade press during December 1931 about how MGM studio personnel were so repelled by the sideshow cast that the studio set aside a special lunchroom for some of the performers.’
    • ‘These figures remain indifferent to their own renown, they're repelled by the bourgeoisie (Berger also has a phobic reaction to this class), and they lead monastic lives.’
    • ‘Initially repelled by Sam's sleazy antics, Rebecca denies him his job, but after her highers-up realizes that Sam, the former Red Sox great, will be good for business they press her to hire him back.’
    revolt, disgust, repulse, sicken, nauseate, make someone feel sick, turn someone's stomach, be repulsive to, be extremely distasteful to, be repugnant to, make shudder, make someone's flesh creep, make someone's skin crawl, make someone's gorge rise, put off, offend, horrify
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  • 3 formal Refuse to accept (something, especially an argument or theory)

    • ‘the alleged right of lien led by the bankrupt's attorney was repelled’
    refuse, decline, say no to, reject, rebuff, scorn, turn down, turn away, repudiate, treat with contempt, disdain, look down one's nose at, despise
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/rəˈpel/ /rəˈpɛl/


Late Middle English from Latin repellere, from re- ‘back’ + pellere ‘to drive’.