com·​mute | \ kə-ˈmyüt How to pronounce commute (audio) \
commuted; commuting

Definition of commute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

b : to give in exchange for another : exchange commuting foreign currency to domestic
2 : to convert (something, such as a payment) into another form The periodic payments may be commuted into a lump sum.
3 : to change (a penalty) to another less severe commute a death sentence to life in prison

intransitive verb

1 : make up, compensate commuted for her sins
2 : to pay in gross (see gross entry 3 sense 1)
3 : to travel back and forth regularly (as between a suburb and a city) He commutes to work every day by car.
4 : to yield the same mathematical result regardless of order used of two elements undergoing an operation or of two operations on elements



Definition of commute (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or an instance of commuting
2 : the distance covered in commuting a long commute

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from commute


commutable \ kə-​ˈmyü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce commutable (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

When you commute between a suburb and a city, you're "exchanging" one location for another. When a chief executive substitutes a life sentence for the death sentence handed down by a court, he or she is commuting the original sentence. Most such commutations are the result of the prisoner's good behavior. A commutator is a device in many electric motors that regularly changes alternating current to direct current.

Examples of commute in a Sentence

Verb He commutes to work every day by train. She commutes 400 miles a week. The judge commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Huntsman, whose title will be senior advisor of her father’s campaign, will commute to Utah for the time being. Jodi Guglielmi,, "Meghan McCain Says She's 'Heartbroken' But 'So Proud' of Abby Huntsman as She Leaves The View," 13 Jan. 2020 At the time, Hall was a dancer in the corps of the New York City Ballet (he was promoted to soloist in 2007) who commuted from New Jersey to the Upper West Side every day for classes and rehearsals. Parker Bowie Larson, ELLE Decor, "A Heartwarming Story of How Two Brooklyn Dancers Fell in Love," 14 Nov. 2019 Molly Livingston, a 17-year-old aspiring singer from Knoxville, Tennessee, and her 54-year-old father Mark, who commutes regularly from Tennessee to New York for work, were attending their first Met performance. Washington Post, "Met Opera starts regular Sunday matinees, breaking tradition," 7 Oct. 2019 Electric scooters are fast becoming a convenient and fun way to commute for city folks. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Unagi is the $1,190 electric scooter you won’t want to share with anyone," 17 Nov. 2018 But some highly skilled Canadians who commute across the border for work in Detroit have already faced the possibility of losing their jobs because of a narrowing interpretation under the Trump administration of the trade deal's visa rules. Detroit Free Press, "Donald Trump trade war threatens strong Detroit-Windsor ties," 22 June 2018 Both women, who use Amtrak to commute for their jobs, were inspired to start their petition by their own experiences. Rita Giordano,, "Lactation suites sought by Philly moms' petition drive coming to Amtrak stations," 23 May 2018 Luckily both lived in Brookfield and were able to commute for treatments. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brookfield couple exemplifies volunteerism for work at Kathy's House in Tosa," 23 May 2018 Brown’s lawyers filed a formal petition in December with the Tennessee parole board to commute her life sentence for her conviction. Paula Rogo,, "Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency Hearing," 5 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That translates to an additional 11 minutes of commute time for each passenger every day. Maxine Joselow, Scientific American, "Delivery Vehicles Increasingly Choke Cities with Pollution," 11 Jan. 2020 If that weekend’s game is away, her commute is even more complicated. Josh Will,, "Guest TML: It can't be overstated how Joe Burrow transformed the Southeast Ohio landscape," 10 Jan. 2020 The practice of zoning most residential land exclusively for single-family detached homes is a major cause of affordable housing shortages and long commute times. Eric Kober For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Our cities don't have enough affordable housing. Changing this policy will help," 6 Jan. 2020 The Wednesday morning commute for workers or folks picking up Thanksgiving turkeys and dinner fixins at grocery stores could be wet and blustery with winds out of the northwest at 20 mph and gusts up to 30 to 35 mph. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rain and snow could impact Thanksgiving travelers Tuesday and Wednesday," 24 Nov. 2019 However, Tuesday morning commutes could be worse as temperatures continue to sink and snow continues to fall, police say. Andrew Clark, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis weather: Road conditions may still be treacherous Tuesday morning," 11 Nov. 2019 The morning commute was more of a struggle than usual for commuters in the Steel City Monday, after a large sinkhole opened up in downtown Pittsburgh and swallowed part of a bus. Fox News, "Pittsburgh bus with passenger aboard swallowed by massive sinkhole," 28 Oct. 2019 Bus traffic was running through the terminal, cutting commute times to the East Bay by up to 20 minutes thanks to its direct ramp to the Bay Bridge. John Brant, Popular Mechanics, "It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.," 25 Oct. 2019 My commute was long enough to play the Gears 5 'boot camp' tutorial via my Sprint 4G LTE connection. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Project Xcloud preview serves as a passable, portable Xbox One," 18 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'commute.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of commute


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1954, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for commute

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Latin commutare to change, exchange, from com- + mutare to change — more at mutable

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about commute

Time Traveler for commute

Time Traveler

The first known use of commute was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for commute

Last Updated

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Commute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for commute


How to pronounce commute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of commute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to travel regularly to and from a place and especially between where you live and where you work
law : to change (a punishment) to a less severe one



English Language Learners Definition of commute (Entry 2 of 2)

: the journey that you make when you travel to or from a place that you go to regularly (such as the place where you work)


com·​mute | \ kə-ˈmyüt How to pronounce commute (audio) \
commuted; commuting

Kids Definition of commute

1 : to travel back and forth regularly
2 : to change (as a penalty) to something less severe The governor commuted the convict's sentence.

Other Words from commute

commuter noun
com·​mute | \ kə-ˈmyüt How to pronounce commute (audio) \
commuted; commuting

Legal Definition of commute

1 : to convert (as a payment) into another form
2 : to change (a penalty) to one less severe especially out of clemency — compare pardon

Other Words from commute

commutation \ ˌkä-​myə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce commutation (audio) \ noun
commutative \ kə-​ˈmyü-​tə-​tiv, ˈkä-​myə-​ˌtā-​tiv How to pronounce commutative (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on commute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for commute

Spanish Central: Translation of commute

Nglish: Translation of commute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of commute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on commute

What made you want to look up commute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!