com·​pute | \ kəm-ˈpyüt How to pronounce compute (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Sunday’s event was aimed at making clear that storied, troubled, Intel can still deliver huge growth in computing power as the industry has provided in the past half-century. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Intel's New Chip Wizard Has a Plan to Bring Back the Magic," 3 July 2019 These futuristic ideas are proof for Amazon and its backers that the world will always need the same resources that the company provides now: digital infrastructure, storage, and computing power. James Vincent, The Verge, "I welcomed our new robot overlords at Amazon’s first AI conference," 27 June 2019 Moore’s law, the famous guideline stating (roughly) that computing power doubles every two years, is exponential. Kevin Hartnett, Scientific American, "A New “Law” Suggests Quantum Supremacy Could Happen This Year," 21 June 2019 Moore’s law, the famous guideline stating (roughly) that computing power doubles every two years, is exponential. Quanta Magazine, "A New Law to Describe Quantum Computing’s Rise?," 18 June 2019 Built on the computer coding revolution of the mid-20th century, using charts and graphics to communicate statistical information began to take off in the 1980s and 1990s, as computers and computing power became cheaper. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "The multibillion-dollar sales of Tableau and Looker are a coming of age for data visualization," 12 June 2019 Think of it like Amazon’s AWS business, but instead of offering computing power on tap, its robotic mobility. James Vincent, The Verge, "Boston Dynamics prepares to launch its first commercial robot: Spot," 5 June 2019 And that’s not to mention its advances in computing power and artificial intelligence. Sarah Scoles, Discover Magazine, "Are Humans or Robots Better Fit for Exploring Space?," 12 Mar. 2019 Meanwhile, Amazon has expanded into new lines of business, such as groceries, and amassed a massive cloud-computing footprint. Anchorage Daily News, "Facebook, Google and other tech giants to face antitrust investigation by House lawmakers," 4 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of compute

1579, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for compute

Latin computare — more at count

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about compute

Statistics for compute

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compute

The first known use of compute was in 1579

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for compute



English Language Learners Definition of compute

: to find out (something) by using mathematical processes


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

Kids Definition of compute

: to find out by using mathematics compute a total

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on compute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with compute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for compute

Spanish Central: Translation of compute

Nglish: Translation of compute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compute for Arabic Speakers

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).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!