compass 1 of 2


2 of 2


as in to circle
to travel completely around the great age of exploration, when ships of sail compassed the earth

Synonyms & Similar Words


Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near compass

Cite this Entry

“Compass.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on compass

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