v. re·pelled, re·pel·ling, re·pels
1. To ward off or keep away; drive back: repel insects.
2. To offer resistance to; fight against: repel an invasion.
3. To refuse to accept or submit to; reject: a company that was trying to repel a hostile takeover.
4. To refuse to accept (someone); spurn.
5. To cause aversion or distaste in: Your rudeness repels everyone. See Synonyms at disgust. See Usage Note at repulse.
6. To be resistant to; be incapable of absorbing or mixing with: Oil repels water.
7. Physics To present an opposing force to; push back or away from by a force: Electric charges of the same sign repel one another.
1. To offer a resistant force to something.
2. To cause aversion or distaste: behavior that repels.
[Middle English repellen, from Old French repeller, from Latin repellere : re-, re- + pellere, to drive; see pel-5 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.