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 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, "‘You Are Today the One Person in the World Who Can Prevent a War.’ Read Gandhi’s Letters to Hitler," 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, "Britney Spears Gives Closet Tour as She's Granted Permanent Restraining Order Against Sam Lutfi," 13 June 2019 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 Its gunpowder propelled the first military rockets farther than javelin or arrow could fly; its compasses magically revealed magnetic north when the stars were hidden. The Economist, "Chinese technology With the state’s help, Chinese technology is booming," 27 Dec. 2019 The shaving razor blade, stemming from the Kleen brand, is actually a compass. Fox News, "Rare World War II 'escape kits' sold at auction," 19 Nov. 2019 This location is related to the creation of the compass which was invented during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Cruise Automation's Cryptic Instagram Posts Explained," 17 Jan. 2020 With just one quotation from Morrison’s work on each page, this beautiful volume still manages to contain not just a survey of the Nobel winner’s life and development as a genius, but also the kind of moral compass so many of us need right now. Washington Post, "The best books to read — and gift — in December," 3 Dec. 2019 On the compass, zero degrees is due north while 180 degrees is due south. Jim Rossman, Dallas News, "Cord cutters: Do you know where to aim your antenna?," 9 Jan. 2020 In a bid to broaden his party’s appeal to rising nationalists, Chirac pushed the conservatives’ political compass further right before becoming president. Elaine Ganley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Late French leader Chirac had steely will with a human touch," 26 Sep. 2019 Someone who might take our hand, as if taking the hand of an errant toddler, and gently guide us away from the lunatic precipice that the ‘logic’ of profit unguided by the compass of feeling has brought us to. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "Brit Marling responds to The OA cancelation fan hunger strike: 'No one is coming to the rescue'," 24 Aug. 2019 The only way to remain in a hopeful and positive place, as was my usual landscape, was to orient myself in relation to my sons, like a needle finding due north on a compass. Caroline Wright, PEOPLE.com, "After I Was Given a Year to Live, I Wrote This Book for My Sons and Fought Brain Cancer with Love," 20 Aug. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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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 28 Feb. 2020.

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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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Comments on compass

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