com·pute | \kəm-ˈpyüt \
computed; computing

Definition of compute 

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

1 : to make calculation : reckon They compute by weight in selling grain.

2 : to use a computer

3 informal : to make sense No matter how you do the math, it will not work … . It simply does not compute.— Chuck Finder

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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

Data, computing power, and competent engineers—all of which favor the world’s most populous nation. Clay Chandler, Fortune, "Why China Has An Edge In the A.I. Arms Race," 25 June 2018 UC Berkeley and Siemens researchers have launched something called Dex-Net as a Service, a beta program that computes how and where a robot should grip objects like vases and turbine housings. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Robots Can't Hold Stuff Very Well. But You Can Help," 13 July 2018 Our understanding of microbiomes has made great advances in the 21st century thanks in part to the large and continuous volume of data generated by advances in DNA extraction, genetic sequencing and computing technologies. Helen Bynum, WSJ, "‘Microbia’ Review: The Many Tiny Worlds Among Us," 12 July 2018 There’s some big deals coming on tech products like 4K LED televisions, computing accessories, the Amazon Echo Show, and more. Cameron Faulkner, The Verge, "This weekend’s best deals make the latest TVs and games more affordable," 7 July 2018 So few of the women who participated in the study were considered heavy drinkers that the authors could not compute the influence of high alcohol consumption on the obesity risks of their offspring. Melissa Healy,, "To reduce your risk of obesity, it helps to have a mom who follows five healthy habits," 5 July 2018 And scientists just reported that even tiny bee brains can compute zero. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The mind-bendy weirdness of the number zero, explained," 5 July 2018 However, there is another cross-platform graphics and compute API, Vulkan, which some see as OpenGL's successor, that is up to the task. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "The end of OpenGL support, plus other updates Apple didn’t share at the keynote," 6 June 2018 Privacy - Terms Trouble is, fan is short for fanatic and rational doesn’t always compute. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "K-State's Bruce Weber now must meet expectations instead of defying them," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'compute.' 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 compute

1579, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for compute

Latin computare — more at count

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Learn More about compute

Statistics for compute

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compute

The first known use of compute was in 1579

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More Definitions for compute



English Language Learners Definition of compute

: to find out (something) by using mathematical processes


com·pute | \kəm-ˈpyüt \
computed; computing

Kids Definition of compute

: to find out by using mathematics compute a total

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Comments on compute

What made you want to look up compute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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