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

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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.
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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

The match begins at 6 p.m. in Moscow and 11 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States because, after decades of prioritizing Western Europe, FIFA’s compass has begun to shift east in recent years. Kevin Draper, New York Times, "The World Cup Final’s Unconventional Start Time," 13 July 2018 In the Summit Tents, designer Cassie Novick has also peppered slightly different nautical touches throughout; ours came with a rope light fixture, vintage books and binoculars, and brass compass. Fortune, "'Glamping' Has Officially Come to New York City," 12 July 2018 Manhattan is slightly off because, while it is organized into a grid, the grid is not lined up with the compass points. Martin Finucane, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston’s streets do go in all sorts of directions. These charts prove it," 12 July 2018 USA TODAY Sports The compass controversy is over, and the U.S. Golf Association has ruled that Bryson DeChambeau may no longer use his protractor on the course. Kevin Casey, USA TODAY, "USGA rules that Bryson DeChambeau can't use drawing compass on golf course," 6 July 2018 Isle of Dogs is a children’s movie, but then Anderson’s compass has always pointed to age twelve. Christian Lorentzen, The New Republic, "The earnest, ironic stylings of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs”," 21 Mar. 2018 Seven years later, the cynicism of modern football had not corrupted his moral compass. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 1 Day to Go - Germany's Mild-Mannered Goal Machine, Miroslav Klose," 13 June 2018 Happiest 94th to our Gamps — the anchor of our family, our compass. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "George H.W. Bush becomes first former president to turn 94," 12 June 2018 Over lunch in midtown Manhattan, a tattoo of an Icelandic compass symbol reveals itself on his right forearm. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "Graham Nash Tells the Wild Tales Behind His Most Enduring Songs," 29 June 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

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

Noun

see compass entry 1

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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 \

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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