- (Received Pronunciation, General American) enPR: kŭmʹpəs, IPA(key): /ˈkʌmpəs/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Rhymes: -ʌmpəs
- Hyphenation: com‧pass
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.
compass (plural compasses)
- A magnetic or electronic device used to determine the cardinal directions (usually magnetic or true north).
- 1689/1690, John Locke, On improvement of understanding
- He that [...] first discovered the use of the compass [...] did more for the propagation of knowledge [...] than those who built workhouses.
- 1890, Wilhelm Westhofen, The Forth Bridge:
- a glance at his compass would have shown him that a northerly course instead of an easterly could not be right
- A pair of compasses (a device used to draw an arc or circle).
- 1701, Jonathan Swift, chapter 5, in A Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions between the Nobles and the Commons in Athens and Rome:
- to fix one foot of their compass wherever they please
- (music) The range of notes of a musical instrument or voice.
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene ii]:
- You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass.
- (obsolete) A space within limits; an area.
- 1763, M. Le Page Du Pratz, History of Louisiana, PG, page 47:
- In going up the Missisippi [sic], we meet with nothing remarkable before we come to the Detour aux Anglois, the English Reach: in that part the river takes a large compass.
- 1711, Joseph Addison, The Spectator:
- Animals, in their generation, are wiser than the sons of men but their wisdom is confined to a few particulars, and lies in a very narrow compass.
- 1939 September, D. S. Barrie, “The Railways of South Wales”, in Railway Magazine, page 161:
- Among tank engines, the 0-6-2 wheel arrangement was by far the most numerous, there being nearly 450 of this arrangement, which offers the advantage of good power and adhesive weight, coupled with adequate tank and bunker capacity, within a limited compass.
- (obsolete) An enclosing limit; a boundary, a circumference.
- within the compass of an encircling wall
- 1624, John Smith, “The Present Estate of New-Plimoth”, in John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: […], London: […] I[ohn] D[awson] and I[ohn] H[aviland] for Michael Sparkes, →OCLC, book 6; republished as The Generall Historie of Virginia, [...], London: […] I[ohn] D[awson] and I[ohn] H[aviland] for Edward Blackmore, 1632, →OCLC, page 247:
- [T]he Towne is impailed about halfe a mile compaſſe.
- Moderate bounds, limits of truth; moderation; due limits; used with within.
- (archaic) Scope.
- c. 1806–1809 (date written), William Wordsworth, “(please specify the page)”, in The Excursion, being a Portion of The Recluse, a Poem, London: […] Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […], published 1814, →OCLC:
- the compass of his argument
- 1748, David Hume, Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral, Oxford University Press, published 1973, section 8:
- There is a truth and falsehood in all propositions on this subject, and a truth and falsehood, which lie not beyond the compass of human understanding.
- (obsolete) Range, reach.
- c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. […] The First Part […], 2nd edition, part 1, London: […] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, […], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, (please specify the page):
- Then when our powers in points of ſwords are ioin’d
And cloſde in compaſſe of the killing bullet,
Though ſtraite the paſſage and the port be made,
That leads to Pallace of my brothers life,
Proud is his fortune if we pierce it not.
- (obsolete) A passing round; circuit; circuitous course.
- 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
- This day I breathed first; time is come round, / And where I did begin, there shall I end; / My life is run his compass.
- (magnetic direction finder): magnetic compass
- (device used to draw circular curves): pair of compasses
- (pair of compasses): beam compass
- beam compass
- bow compass
- box the compass
- Brunton compass
- compass card
- compass deflection
- compass dial
- compass error
- compass jellyfish
- compass needle
- compass out
- compass plane
- compass plant
- compass point
- compass rose
- compass saw
- compass swing
- compass termite
- compass timber
- compass wallah
- compass window
- fetch a compass
- gyro compass
- gyromagnetic compass
- hanging compass
- magnetic compass
- mariner's compass
- moral compass
- pair of compasses
- prismatic compass
- radio compass
- scribing compass
- Square and Compass
- telltale compass
- tell-tale compass
- variation compass
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- To surround; to encircle; to environ; to stretch round.
- 1899, Martha Frye Boggs, Jack Crews, page 237:
- Jack was called plucky, and he was, but it took all the strength of will that the slim, resolute engineer possessed, to hold him to his purpose, when he faced about and surveyed the unimpassive faces which compassed him.
- To go about or round entirely; to traverse.
- (dated) To accomplish; to reach; to achieve; to obtain.
- 1720, John Shaw, “Of Religion”, in The Fundamental Doctrines of the Church of England, […], volume I, London: […] George Strahan, […] William Mears, […], page 36:
- […] tho' theſe ſeem'd to be very unfit Inſtruments for compaſſing of that great Deſign for which they were then employ'd, becauſe of their Inability and Uncapacity in performing the Work ſo very great and important; […]
- 1763, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, translated by M. Nugent, Emilius; or, an essay on education, page 117:
- [...] they never find ways sufficient to compass that end.
- 1816, Catholicon: or, the Christian Philosopher, volume 3, July to December 1816, page 56:
- [...] to settle the end of our action or disputation; and then to take fit and effectual means to compass that end.
- 1857, Gilbert Burnet, Bishop Burnet's History of His Own Time: from the Restoration of King Charles the Second to the Treaty of Peace at Utrecht in the Reign of Queen Anne, page 657:
- [...] and was an artful flatterer, when that was necessary to compass his end, in which generally he was successful.
- 1921 November 23, The New Republic, volume 28, number 364, page 2:
- The immediate problem is how to compass that end: by the seizure of territory or by the cultivation of the goodwill of the people whose business she seeks.
- (dated) To plot; to scheme (against someone).
- 1600, R. Bagshaw, “The Arraignment and Judgement of Captain Thomas Lee”, in Cobbett's Complete Collection of State Trials, volume 1, published 1809, pages 1403–04:
- That he plotted and compassed to raise Sedition and Rebellion [...]
- 1794 November 1, Speech of Mr. Erskine in Behalf of Hardy, published in 1884, by Chauncey Allen Goodrich, in Select British Eloquence, page 719:
- But it went beyond it by the loose construction of compassing to depose the King, [...]
- 1915, The Wireless Age, volume 2, page 580:
- The Bavarian felt a mad wave of desire for her sweep over him. What scheme wouldn't he compass to mould that girl to his wishes.
- (surround): encircle, environ, surround
- (go about or around entirely): cover, traverse
- (accomplish): accomplish, achieve, attain, gain, get to, reach
- (plot (against someone)): conspire, plot, scheme
- (obsolete) In a circuit; round about.
- “compass”, in The Century Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
- “compass”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- Alternative form of