Synonyms & Antonyms of compass

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a guiding or motivating purpose or principle
  • a young go-getter who lost his moral compass in the course of his quest for fame and fortune

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2 an area over which activity, capacity, or influence extends
  • within the compass of my voice

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3 the line or relatively narrow space that marks the outer limit of something
  • within the compass of the city walls

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Synonyms & Antonyms of compass (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to carry through (as a process) to completion
  • attempting more than his modest abilities could compass

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2 to travel completely around
  • the great age of exploration, when ships of sail compassed the earth

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3 to engage in a secret plan to accomplish evil or unlawful ends
  • the rebels are compassing the assassination of the king

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4 to form a circle around
  • a mysterious isle, compassed by treacherous seas

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5 to have a clear idea of
  • the concept that the earth is billions of years old is one that the average mind struggles to compass

Synonyms for compass

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Phrases Synonymous with compass

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Antonyms for compass

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About compass

How does the noun compass differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of compass are gamut, orbit, range, scope, and sweep. While all these words mean "the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control)," compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity.

your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study

When is gamut a more appropriate choice than compass?

While the synonyms gamut and compass are close in meaning, gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another.

a performance that ran the gamut of emotions

When is it sensible to use orbit instead of compass?

In some situations, the words orbit and compass are roughly equivalent. However, 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

Where would range be a reasonable alternative to compass?

The meanings of range and compass largely overlap; however, 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

When could scope be used to replace compass?

The words scope and compass can be used in similar contexts, but scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible.

as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened

In what contexts can sweep take the place of compass?

Although the words sweep and compass have much in common, sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity.

the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity

Learn More About compass

Time Traveler for compass

Time Traveler

The first known use of compass was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Compass.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on compass

Nglish: Translation of compass for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compass for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about compass


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