compass

verb
com·​pass | \ ˈkəm-pəs also ˈkäm- \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from compass

Verb

compassable \ ˈkəm-​pə-​sə-​bəl 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.
See More

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

Some of the books reflect his strong moral compass and convey the importance of integrity and giving back to the institutions that helped educate and nurture him. Burton G. Malkiel, WSJ, "The Secrets of Jack Bogle’s Investment Success," 17 Jan. 2019 Up next, find out how to transform your birth chart into your celestial compass. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac," 6 Oct. 2018 The compass then directs you back to safer environs. Ryan Haase, WSJ, "Six Indispensable Apps for Business Travelers," 30 Aug. 2018 But despite traveling to the 18th century with nothing but a compass and a ponytail, this turtleneck-loving bae has made it to America against all odds—and great news! Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outlander Just Aired One of Its Most Difficult-to-Watch Episodes," 24 Dec. 2018 The traditional open-world exploration interface has been cut down to a handful of symbols that track your core health and well-being, as well as an optional minimap that can collapse into a simple on-screen compass (or even to nothing at all). Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Red Dead Redemption II review: Getting muddy in the wide-open frontier," 25 Oct. 2018 These trends act as points on our collective sartorial compass, providing guidance and inspiration. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "I Like It Like That! 11 Outfits That Will Be All Over Instagram This Spring," 19 Oct. 2018 Fans visiting the track, located in suburban Avondale, for this weekend’s NASCAR events – highlighted by Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 Cup race – will find construction at virtually every compass point around the one-mile facility. Mike Hembree, USA TODAY, "Phoenix racetrack in midst of $178M renovation, to be completed by fall race," 6 Mar. 2018 While the results don’t turn out the way Boyce hoped, his own moral compass sees him through the entire ordeal of this film. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Overlord is a gloriously entertaining piece of B-movie schlock," 9 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about compass

Statistics for compass

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compass

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on compass

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

WORD OF THE DAY

irregularly rounded

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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