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 Orienteering is an endurance sport in which competitors navigate what is usually unfamiliar terrain using only a map and compass. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "Chinese Orienteering Team Disqualified For 'Extensive Cheating' During Military World Games," 25 Oct. 2019 Orienteering combines racing and land navigation; competitors use a map and compass to get to various points in the fastest time. Fox News, "Chinese orienteering team disqualified at Military World Games over cheating," 24 Oct. 2019 Liberals are the country’s moral conscience; conservatives are its moral compass with a stationary arrow. New York Times, "In Today’s World, Is It Possible to Be an Idealist?," 18 Oct. 2019 If this goose snatches your moral compass too, try looking for it in the lake. Kriston Capps, The Atlantic, "The Viral Video Game Where You Play a Horrible Goose," 5 Oct. 2019 Long before the advent of GPS and too far north for his compass to be of much use, Maultsby used only a sextant and the stars to navigate, like a sailor from a bygone era. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "Why the U-2 Is Such a Badass Plane," 4 Sep. 2019 For now, here’s a snapshot of this year’s honorees: Deborah Allsop, Wyoming, has been a fearless champion for vulnerable children and families and serves as a moral compass for the community. Jennie Key, Cincinnati.com, "Meet The Enquirer Women of the Year for 2019," 8 Sep. 2019 Identical twins separated at birth and raised in different environments typically find their political stances in agreement when reunited, suggesting a genetic component to our political compass. Bill Sullivan, National Geographic, "Why we like what we like: A scientist’s surprising findings," 6 Aug. 2019 Alba speaks Spanish most of the time, but her advice about following your moral compass is universal. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Why ‘Jane the Virgin’ is the TV show you need right now," 5 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

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Compass.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassing. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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