compass

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

Other Words from compass

Verb

compassable \ ˈkəm-​pə-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce compass (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It could be argued that Ingram, not Williamson, is the barometer and compass for how the Pelicans' will navigate the sails of the regular season. Christopher Dodson, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 The other delegates ignored him, the Constitution was adopted, and Charles L’Enfant skulked onto the scene with his ruler and compass a few years later. Kevin Mahnken, The New Republic, 25 June 2020 It is based on the knowledge that no spoliator can compass his end without a certain degree of co-operation, willing or compulsory, of the victim. Tridip Suhrud, Time, 25 Sep. 2019 Lutfi began harassing Britney and those around her shortly after the performer checked into an all-compassing wellness treatment facility in April, the singer’s attorney said in the court documents. PEOPLE.com, 13 June 2019 True to their name, though, sun compasses only work in the sun. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, 4 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These three examples give a glimpse of a people with a steady and appealing moral compass oriented toward inclusion and fairness. Danielle Allen, WSJ, 6 May 2022 The Bermuda Triangle is one of two places on Earth where a compass will point to true north instead of magnetic north. Ashley Stimpson, Popular Mechanics, 18 Apr. 2022 There’s getting lost, however, and then there’s getting dropped into exponentially metastasizing mythologies without a compass or map. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 13 Apr. 2022 So that gives a really good compass for everyone to do the right thing. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 13 Apr. 2022 MacKenzie Center naturalists will teach basic survival skills including building shelters, fires and navigating using a compass. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 Mar. 2022 Also, being comfortable using a map and a compass is essential at Barkley. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 15 Mar. 2022 That’s as true as due north on a compass, even among those lacking the moral equivalent. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Feb. 2022 West is Ye’s compass and Simmons captures her dispensing poignant advice. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About compass

Time Traveler for compass

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near compass

compas

compass

compass bearing

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Statistics for compass

Cite this Entry

“Compass.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compass. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for compass

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on compass

Nglish: Translation of compass for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compass for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about compass

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