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

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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 What are the factors traditionally used to compute premiums?, 7 June 2021 There is the action-planner portion of the AI driving system that tries to compute what next actions of the autonomous vehicle are most prudent to take. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 23 June 2021 Other airlines use a combination of factors to compute the value of miles and points, including distance, ticket types and partnerships with other airlines. Dallas News, 14 Apr. 2021 But there’s also the reality that jumping back headfirst into a world which requires quick decision-making with multiple variables can be tiring to compute. Rachel Besser, Vogue, 11 May 2021 Calculations that involve millions of inputs would take thousands of years for today’s processors to compute. Moneyshow, Forbes, 5 May 2021 The idea that the US government can go on spending simply doesn’t compute to anyone who operates a household budget. Danielle Seurkamp, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 During that same period those residences sold on average for more than twice the value used to compute property taxes. Thiru Vignarajah, WSJ, 16 Apr. 2021 Computations And Calculations To compute is to calculate, literally and figuratively. Russ Banham, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler for compute

Time Traveler

The first known use of compute was in 1579

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Dictionary Entries Near compute



computed tomography

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Statistics for compute

Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce compute (audio) \
computed; computing

Kids Definition of compute

: to find out by using mathematics compute a total

More from Merriam-Webster on compute

Nglish: Translation of compute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compute for Arabic Speakers


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