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

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

But Belichick’s prominent use of Antonio Brown on Sunday left no doubt where his moral compass points: straight up, by way of his middle finger. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Antonio Brown's featured role in debut reveals Patriots' shamelessness," 15 Sep. 2019 However, the numbers are determined by the magnetic orientation of the runway, essentially the compass degrees. Matthias Gafni, SFChronicle.com, "SFO: The typo that almost crashed a plane," 13 Sep. 2019 For the first time in 360 years, compass needles at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in England will point toward true North. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "For the First Time in 360 Years, True and Magnetic North Will Align in the U.K.," 30 Aug. 2019 Until then, don’t be alarmed if your compass shifts by a degree or two. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "Earth’s Magnetic Field Could Take Longer to Flip Than Previously Thought," 8 Aug. 2019 As the rocks cool, the magnetic minerals act like tiny compass needles, encoding the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field, Caplan-Auerbach explains. National Geographic, "Six underwater volcanoes found hiding in plain sight," 2 Aug. 2019 Triple sensor The Pro Trek has Triple Sensor Version 3 technology, which includes a compass, altimeter-barometer and a thermometer. Dallas News, "Casio Pro Trek watch is tough and feature-packed," 8 Aug. 2019 At the same time, however, Biden’s nostalgia for his pragmatic former alliances with segregationist lawmakers bespeaks a foreshortened moral compass, one prone to equate bigotry with collegial rascalry. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Destructive Politics of White Amnesia," 6 Aug. 2019 As my colleague Darren Franich wrote so eloquently last year, as Jimmy McGill’s girlfriend, moral compass, and occasional partner-in-crime, Seehorn is giving one of the most subtly compelling and nuanced performances on television, period. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "What the Emmy voters got right — and very, very wrong," 16 July 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

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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