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

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

: to make calculation : reckon
They compute by weight in selling grain.
: to use a computer
informal : to make sense
No matter how you do the math, it will not work … . It simply does not compute. Chuck Finder

Example Sentences

for the test we were required to compute the answers without using a calculator
Recent Examples on the Web Online inflation calculators become less reliable when used to compute the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar before 1913. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Aug. 2022 Mike Shukwit, Elmwood's director of operations, used it to compute the elm tree's height. Neal Rubin, Detroit Free Press, 7 July 2022 The company suggested that the optical flow engine (OFA) in its Ada Lovelace GPUs can compute more than double the rate of machine learning calculations compared to the same OFA in Ampere (the RTX 3000 series). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 12 Oct. 2022 This is new way to compute, develop highly intelligent and extremely personalized experiences for us by 2035 and beyond. Michael Gale, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2022 Still, these tools have limitations as the company found in 2020 when its AI struggled to compute the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2022 The amount was a projection, relying on a sample of federal spending to compute possible fraud across the nearly $900 billion in unemployment payments made during the pandemic. Tony Romm, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Sep. 2022 How do people who actually want to manage their drinking — and manage their personal risk — compute all those numbers while sitting at a bar or wandering a liquor store? Jason Wilson, Washington Post, 25 July 2022 People no longer require expensive, special hardware that can compute complex equations at the speed of light. Medora Lee, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Latin computare — more at count

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of compute was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near compute

Cite this Entry

“Compute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



com·​pute kəm-ˈpyüt How to pronounce compute (audio)
computed; computing
: to determine or calculate especially by mathematical means
also : to determine or calculate by means of a computer

More from Merriam-Webster on compute

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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