verb \ˈkəm-pəs also ˈkäm-\

Definition of COMPASS

transitive verb
:  to devise or contrive often with craft or skill :  plot <persons … who have compassed my destruction — Charles Dickens>
:  encompass
a :  bring about, achieve
b :  to get into one's possession or power :  obtain
com·pass·able \-pə-sə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of COMPASS

  1. <attempting more than his modest abilities could compass>
  2. <the great age of exploration, when ships of sail compassed the earth>

Origin of COMPASS

Middle English, from Anglo-French cumpasser to measure, from Vulgar Latin *compassare to pace off, from Latin com- + passus pace
First Known Use: 14th century



: a device that is used to find direction by means of a needle that always points north

: something that helps a person make choices about what is right, effective, etc.

: a tool that consists of two pointed sticks joined at the top and that is used for measuring distances

Full Definition of COMPASS

a :  boundary, circumference <within the compass of the city walls>
b :  a circumscribed space <within the narrow compass of 21 pages — V. L. Parrington>
c :  range, scope <the compass of my voice>
:  a curved or roundabout course <a compass of seven days' journey — 2 Kings 3:9(Authorized Version)>
a :  a device for determining directions by means of a magnetic needle or group of needles turning freely on a pivot and pointing to the magnetic north
b :  any of various nonmagnetic devices that indicate direction
c :  an instrument for describing circles or transferring measurements that consists of two pointed branches joined at the top by a pivot —usually used in plural —called also pair of compasses
:  direction 6c <his moral compass>

Examples of COMPASS

  1. He always carries a compass when he walks in the woods.
  2. His religion is the compass that guides him.
  3. Interest rates serve as a compass for determining whether to buy or sell stocks.
  4. The character in the movie had no moral compass to tell him that stealing was wrong.

Illustration of COMPASS

First Known Use of COMPASS

14th century

Rhymes with COMPASS



Definition of COMPASS

:  forming a curve :  curved <a compass timber>

First Known Use of COMPASS



noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In navigation or surveying, the chief device for direction finding on the Earth's surface. Compasses may operate on magnetic or gyroscopic (see gyroscope) principles or by determining the direction of the Sun or a star. The oldest and most familiar type is the magnetic compass, used in different forms in aircraft, ships, and land vehicles and by surveyors. Magnetic compasses work as they do because the Earth itself is a magnet with a north-south field (see geomagnetic field) that causes freely moving magnets to align themselves with the field.


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