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  • (UK) IPA(key): /kɒmjuːˈteɪʃən/
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From French commutation, from Latin commūtātiōnem, accusative singular of commūtātiō.


commutation (countable and uncountable, plural commutations)

  1. (formal or archaic) Substitution of one thing for another; interchange.
  2. Specifically, the substitution of one kind of payment for another, especially a switch to monetary payment from obligations of labour.
    • 1969, Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, Folio Society 2006, p. 213:
      Professor Postan has argued in favour of a rapid move towards commutation in the twelfth century which slackened or even went into reverse in the course of the thirteenth.
  3. (law) The change to a lesser penalty or punishment by the State
    • 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, Harper Perennial 2007, p. 23:
      Monsieur the Marquis de Sade [was] now holed up in one of his châteaux while his wife worked for the commutation of a sentence passed on him recently for poisoning and buggery.
  4. (linguistics) Substitution, as a means of discriminating between phonemes.
  5. (electronics) The reversal of an electric current.
  6. (obsolete) A passing from one state to another; change; alteration; mutation.
  7. (obsolete) The act of giving one thing for another; barter; exchange.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From commute.


commutation (countable and uncountable, plural commutations)

  1. (US) The process or habit of journeying to and from work on a regular basis; commuting.
    • 1879, WR Martin, “Cities as Units in Our Polity”, in The North American Review:
      but there was no city officer to stand forth and ask for it — not even so much as to require frequent trains, low fares, and commutations on that part of the road which ran within the city limits.
    • 1981, David W. Lantis, Rodney Steiner, Arthur E. Karinen, California, land of contrast[1], page 166:
      These permit the limited number willing to abandon their automobiles for long hikes to visit some of the most rugged terrain in Southern California. Major resort centers with substantial year-around residence (and much commutation) occur in the western Santa Monica Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains, and around Idyllwild in the San Jacinto.
    • 1999, BW Hawkins, DM Ihrke, “Research Note: Reexamining the Suburban Exploitation Thesis in American Metropolitan Areas”, in Publius: The Journal of Federalism:
      After decades of complaint that cities are exploited by suburban commuters, the American metropolis is experiencing more and more commutation in the other direction. In some metropolitan areas, there is as much commutation out of the city as into it.
    • 2004, Mary W. Quigley, Loretta E. Kaufman, Going Back To Work: A Survival Guide for Comeback Moms[2], page 36:
      When Mary worked as an adjunct, she deliberately never calculated how much commutation and the babysitter were costing because she suspected that she was probably losing money on the deal.


  • commutation at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • commutation in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911



commutation f (plural commutations)

  1. commutation

Further reading[edit]