This week we’re looking at the many near-synonyms in English for the verb persuade.
Let’s start with the verb convince, which is sometimes used to mean ‘to persuade someone to do something’: I hope this will convince you to change your mind.
A number of verbs mean specifically ‘to persuade someone to do an activity’, for example the phrasal verbs talk into and (informal) rope in: Finn is refusing to go camping but I think I can talk him into it. / We needed two more people to make up the team so we roped in a couple of spectators.
Other words suggest that you persuade someone to do something by saying nice things to them, for example the verbs sweet-talk, cajole and in British English, the phrasal verb get round: Perhaps you could sweet-talk Patrick into helping out? / I managed to cajole her into giving us a lift. / My mum doesn’t want me to have a party but I’m hoping I can get round her. A similar verb – coax – emphasizes that you persuade someone to do something by being kind and patient: A mother was coaxing her reluctant child into the water.
The phrasal verb work on emphasizes the effort that you make while trying to persuade someone to do something: Sam hasn’t agreed to pay for it yet but I’m working on him.
Another ‘persuade’ verb – wheedle – suggests that you use charm or praise to persuade someone to do something, sometimes in a way that is not sincere: He wasn’t going to tell me what happened but I manage to wheedle it out of him.
Other ‘persuade’ verbs suggest that you try forcefully to persuade someone to do something, for example, the formal word exhort: The governor exhorted the prisoners not to riot. The verbs pressurize and pressure go further, suggesting that you strongly persuade someone to do something they do not want to do: He was pressurized into signing the agreement.
Finally, two useful idioms exist in this area. If you twist someone’s arm, you persuade them to do something they do not want to do: I didn’t really want to go but Rebecca twisted my arm. Meanwhile, if you can twist or wrap someone around your little finger, you can persuade them to do anything you want, usually because they love you: She could wrap her father around her little finger.