com·​pute kəm-ˈpyüt How to pronounce compute (audio)
computed; computing

transitive verb

: to determine especially by mathematical means
Compute the area of the triangle.
also : to determine or calculate by means of a computer
computing pi to over one billion places

intransitive verb

: to make calculation : reckon
They compute by weight in selling grain.
: to use a computer
informal : to make sense
No matter how you do the math, it will not work … . It simply does not compute.Chuck Finder

Examples of compute in a Sentence

for the test we were required to compute the answers without using a calculator
Recent Examples on the Web Forecasts at major weather centers like the ECMWF or the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association can take hours to compute on powerful servers. WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 Fatality Count: For a simulated attack on any day of 2021, the scientists computed the resulting fatalities. Sébastien Philippe, Scientific American, 10 Nov. 2023 The system would need to operate around the clock with minimal downtime and would represent a huge technological and computing leap. Marc Wortman, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2023 Zuckerberg said that chief among the company’s investment priorities in 2024 will be artificial intelligence, where Meta will hire more engineers and build up its computing resources. Naomi Nix, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 In fact, what IBM learned on the project paid for by the government would enable the company to create the interlinked computing future for organizations everywhere. Marc Wortman, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2023 The original rules had sought to hamper China’s ability to procure advanced computing chips and manufacture advanced weapons systems. Michelle Toh, CNN, 18 Oct. 2023 But there’s a catch: Reading the result of a computation performed in superposition only reveals the answer to the part computed by one random component. Ben Brubaker, Quanta Magazine, 17 Oct. 2023 Xu said in the speech that cheaper, abundant access to computing power was a necessity for rapid advancement in AI, and the limits of this supply were a key factor restricting the pace of its development. Eva Dou, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'compute.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin computare — more at count

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of compute was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near compute

Cite this Entry

“Compute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


com·​pute kəm-ˈpyüt How to pronounce compute (audio)
computed; computing
: to determine or calculate especially by mathematical means
also : to determine or calculate by means of a computer

from Latin computare "to count, compute" — related to account, count entry 1

More from Merriam-Webster on compute

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