compass

verb
com·​pass | \ ˈkəm-pəs also ˈkäm- How to pronounce compass (audio) \
compassed; compassing; compasses

Definition of compass

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to devise or contrive often with craft or skill : plot " … persons … who have compassed my destruction … "— Charles Dickens
2 : encompass a lake compassed by mountains
3a : bring about, achieve … none can compass more than they intend …— Alexander Pope
b : to get into one's possession or power : obtain He compassed a vast estate.
4 : comprehend could not compass the seriousness of the problem

compass

noun

Definition of compass (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : boundary, circumference within the compass of the city walls
b : a circumscribed space crammed into a narrow compass
c : range, scope the compass of my voice
2 : a curved or roundabout course … a compass of seven days' journey … — 2 Kings 3:9 (King James Version)
3a : 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

4 : direction sense 6c his moral compass

compass

adjective

Definition of compass (Entry 3 of 3)

: forming a curve : curved a compass timber

Illustration of compass

Illustration of compass

Noun

compass 3a

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from compass

Verb

compassable \ ˈkəm-​pə-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce compassable (audio) also  ˈkäm-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for compass

Noun

range, gamut, compass, sweep, scope, orbit mean the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control). range is a general term indicating the extent of one's perception or the extent of powers, capacities, or possibilities. the entire range of human experience gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another. a performance that ran the gamut of emotions compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity. your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity. the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible. as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened orbit suggests an often circumscribed range of activity or influence within which forces work toward accommodation. within that restricted orbit they tried to effect social change

Examples of compass in a Sentence

Verb

attempting more than his modest abilities could compass the great age of exploration, when ships of sail compassed the earth

Noun

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

True to their name, though, sun compasses only work in the sun. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Vikings Could Have Used Crystals For Navigation," 4 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As the original Twilight Zone spiraled through time periods and parallel dimensions, the show's moral compass always held steady. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Jordan Peele's Take on The Twilight Zone's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" Breaks from the Original," 3 Apr. 2019 As for our current cultural compass, DuVernay, who was recently named cochair of Prada’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, takes the long view. Allison Glock, Marie Claire, "The Change Makers: Constance Wu, Ava DuVernay, and Jessica Chastain," 7 Mar. 2019 There’s also a compass that uses the hour and minute hands to form the needle. Emily Reed, Outside Online, "Our Editors' Oldest, Most Well-Loved Gear," 5 June 2018 It's made the nation's moral compass harder to tune to a true north. USA TODAY, "Who needs to beat the traffic? The end of the game just got so much more exciting," 15 May 2018 My right thumb holds the compass control all the way right for a three count. Dan Neil, WSJ, "The First Flying-Car Review," 12 Sep. 2018 The wire carried a current which produced a magnetic field around it, moving the compass alignment to this new field rather than Earth’s own magnetic field. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian, "Sometimes, a Scientific “Eureka!” Moment Really Does Change The World," 7 Mar. 2018 Instinct comes with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo). Dani Deahl, The Verge, "The Garmin Instinct is a rugged smartwatch for outdoor activities," 11 Oct. 2018 Left unsettled is whether, in its treatment of migrants near the Southern border, the nation has again lost its moral compass. Rick Hampson, USA TODAY, "Celebrating Independence Day in America's detention camps – during World War II and now," 2 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of compass

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1523, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for compass

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French cumpasser to measure, from Vulgar Latin *compassare to pace off, from Latin com- + passus pace

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Time Traveler for compass

The first known use of compass was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for compass

compass

noun

English Language Learners Definition of compass

: 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

compass

noun
com·​pass | \ ˈkəm-pəs How to pronounce compass (audio) \

Kids Definition of compass

1 : a device having a magnetic needle that indicates direction on the earth's surface by pointing toward the north
2 : an instrument for drawing circles or marking measurements consisting of two pointed legs joined at the top by a pivot usually used in pl.
3 : range entry 1 sense 2, scope He is within the compass of my voice.

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