Compass definition

kŭmpəs, kŏm-
Frequency:
A V-shaped device for describing circles or circular arcs and for taking measurements, consisting of a pair of rigid, end-hinged legs, one of which is equipped with a pen, pencil, or other marker and the other with a sharp point providing a pivot about which the drawing leg is turned.
noun
17
7
A device used for drawing circles and arcs and for measuring distances on maps, consisting of two legs hinged together at one end.
9
1
To make a circuit of; circle.

The sailboat compassed the island.

verb
8
2
Forming a curve.
adjective
7
3
An adjustable instrument consisting of two arms connected at one end by a hinge, with typically one arm having a pencil or pen attached to its other end and the other arm ending in a point: used for drawing arcs and circles, measuring distances on a map, etc.
noun
6
2
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(archaic) To go around; make a circuit of.
verb
3
1
Any of various instruments for showing geographical direction, esp. one consisting of a magnetic needle swinging freely on a pivot and pointing to the magnetic north.
noun
3
1
The definition of compass means to understand, grasp or fulfill.

An example of to compass is figuring out why your car won't start.

verb
2
0
The definition of a compass is a tool with two pointed legs connected by a hinge, one end with a writing device the other used as a stable pivot, used for drawing perfect circles and other things.

An example of compass is what an architect uses for drawing curves in a building plan.

noun
2
0
A compass is defined as a device with magnetic needles used for showing the direction one is facing.

An example of a compass is what a backpacker would use to find their way through the woods.

noun
2
0
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To surround; encircle.

The trees compass the grave.

verb
2
1
A device used to determine geographical direction, usually consisting of a magnetic needle mounted on a pivot, aligning itself naturally with the Earth's magnetic field so that it points to the Earth's geomagnetic north or south pole.
2
1
A magnetic or electronic device used to determine the cardinal directions (usually magnetic or true north).
noun
1
0
A pair of compasses (a device used to draw an arc or circle).
noun
1
0
(music) The range of notes of a musical instrument or voice.
noun
1
0
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Addison.

Their wisdom […] lies in a very narrow compass.

noun
1
0
1913, D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, chapter 14

Clara thought she had never seen him look so small and mean. He was as if trying to get himself into the smallest possible compass.

noun
1
0
Moderate bounds, limits of truth; moderation; due limits; used with within.
noun
1
0
noun
1
0
Shakespeare.

This day I breathed first; time is come round, / And where I did begin, there shall I end; / My life is run his compass.

noun
1
0
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To surround; to encircle; to environ; to stretch round.
verb
1
0
(dated) To accomplish; to reach; to achieve; to obtain.
verb
1
0
(obsolete) In a circuit; round about.
adverb
1
0
To understand; comprehend.
verb
1
1
verb
1
1
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To grasp mentally; understand; comprehend.
verb
1
1
To reach successfully; achieve; accomplish.

To compass one's ends.

verb
1
1
To plot or contrive (something harmful)
verb
1
1
A boundary line; circumference.
noun
1
1
An enclosed area.
noun
1
1
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Full extent or range; reach; scope; specif., range of tones, as of a voice.
noun
1
1
(archaic) A circuit; course.
noun
1
1
Round; circular or semicircular.
adjective
1
1
To go about or round entirely; to traverse.
verb
1
1
(dated) To plot; to scheme (against someone).
verb
1
1
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Awareness or understanding of one's purpose or objectives.
noun
0
0
A device used to determine geographic direction, usually consisting of a magnetic needle or needles horizontally mounted or suspended and free to pivot until aligned with the earth's magnetic field.
noun
0
0
Another device, such as a radio compass or a gyrocompass, used for determining geographic direction.
noun
0
0
An enclosing line or boundary; a circumference.

Outside the compass of the fence.

noun
0
0
A restricted space or area.

Four huge crates within the compass of the elevator.

noun
0
0
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Range or scope, as of understanding, perception, or authority.

The subject falls outside the compass of this study.

noun
0
0
To scheme; plot.

Compass the death of the king.

verb
0
0
To accomplish or bring about.
verb
0
0
To gain or achieve.
verb
0
0

Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
compass
Plural:
compasses

Origin of compass

  • Middle English compas circle, compass from Old French from compasser to measure from Vulgar Latin compassāre to pace off Latin com- com- Latin passus step pace1

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • For noun: from Middle English compas (“a circle, circuit, limit, form, a mathematical instrument”), from Old French compas, from Medieval Latin compassus (“a circle, a circuit”), from Latin com- (“together”) + passus (“a pace, step, later a pass, way, route”); see pass, pace.

    From Wiktionary

  • For verb: from Middle English compassen (“to go around, make a circuit, draw a circle, contrive, intend”), from Old French compasser; from the noun; see compass as a noun.

    From Wiktionary