Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of compass
Meaning of compass by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Compasses for drawing and cutting


    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 .

    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 .


    • enPR: kŭmʹpəs, IPA: /ˈkʌm.pəs/, X-SAMPA: /kVm.p@s/


    compass ( plural: compasses )

    1. A magnetic or electronic device used to determine the cardinal directions ( usually magnetic or true north ) .
    2. A pair of compasses ( a device used to draw an arc or circle ) .
    3. The range of notes of a musical instrument or voice .
    4. ( obsolete ) A space within limits; area.
    5. Scope.


    compass ( third-person singular simple present compasses present participle compassing, simple past and past participle compassed )

    1. To surround; to encircle; to environ; to stretch round .
    2. To go about or round entirely; to traverse .
    3. ( dated ) To accomplish; to reach; to achieve; to obtain.
    4. ( dated ) To plot; to scheme ( against someone ).




    compass ( comparative more compass, superlative most compass )

    1. ( obsolete ) In a circuit; round about.

    See also

    • compass in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
    • compass in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913

Explanation of compass by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. get the meaning of something

    2. travel around, either by plane or ship

    3. We compassed the earth
    4. bring about

    5. This writer attempts more than his talents can compass
    1. navigational instrument for finding directions

    2. drafting instrument used for drawing circles

    3. an area in which something acts or operates or has power or control:

    4. within the compass of this article
    5. the limit of capability

    6. within the compass of education

    Definition of compass by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Compass ( kŭmpas ), n. [F. compas, fr. LL. compassus circle, prop., a stepping together; com- + passus pace, step. See Pace, Pass.]
      1. A passing round; circuit; circuitous course.

      They fetched a compass of seven day's journey. 2 Kings iii. 9.

      This day I breathed first; time is come round,

      And where I did begin, there shall I end;

      My life is run his compass. Shak.

      2. An inclosing limit; boundary; circumference; as, “within the compass of an encircling wall”.

      3. An inclosed space; an area; extent.

      Their wisdom . . . lies in a very narrow compass. Addison.

      4. Extent; reach; sweep; capacity; sphere; as, “the compass of his eye; the compass of imagination”.

      The compass of his argument. Wordsworth.

      5. Moderate bounds, limits of truth; moderation; due limits; -- used with within.

      In two hundred years before ( I speak within compass ), no such commission had been executed. Sir J. Davies.

      6. ( Mus. ) The range of notes, or tones, within the capacity of a voice or instrument.

      You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. Shak.

      7. An instrument for determining directions upon the earth's surface by means of a magnetized bar or needle turning freely upon a pivot and pointing in a northerly and southerly direction.

      He that first discovered the use of the compass did more for the supplying and increase of useful commodities than those who built workhouses. Locke.

      8. A pair of compasses. [R.] See Compasses.

      To fix one foot of their compass wherever they please. Swift.

      9. A circle; a continent. [Obs.]

      The tryne compas [the threefold world containing earth, sea, and heaven. Skeat.] Chaucer.

      Azimuth compass. See under Azimuth. -- Beam compass. See under Beam. -- Compass card, the circular card attached to the needles of a mariner's compass, on which are marked the thirty-two points or rhumbs. -- Compass dial, a small pocket compass fitted with a sundial to tell the hour of the day. -- Compass plane ( Carp. ), a plane, convex in the direction of its length on the under side, for smoothing the concave faces of curved woodwork. -- Compass plant, Compass flower ( Bot. ), a plant of the American prairies ( Silphium laciniatum ), not unlike a small sunflower; rosinweed. Its lower and root leaves are vertical, and on the prairies are disposed to present their edges north and south.

      Its leaves are turned to the north as true as the magnet:

      This is the compass flower. Longefellow.

      -- Compass saw, a saw with a narrow blade, which will cut in a curve; -- called also fret saw and keyhole saw. -- Compass timber ( Shipbuilding ), curved or crooked timber. -- Compass window ( Arch. ), a circular bay window or oriel window. -- Mariner's compass, a kind of compass used in navigation. It has two or more magnetic needles permanently attached to a card, which moves freely upon a pivot, and is read with reference to a mark on the box representing the ship's head. The card is divided into thirty-two points, called also rhumbs, and the glass-covered box or bowl containing it is suspended in gimbals within the binnacle, in order to preserve its horizontal position. -- Surveyor's compass, an instrument used in surveying for measuring horizontal angles. See Circumferentor. -- Variation compass, a compass of delicate construction, used in observations on the variations of the needle. -- To fetch a compass, to make a circuit.

    2. Compass ( kŭmpas ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Compassed ( kŭmpast ); p. pr. & vb. n. Compassing.] [F. compasser, LL. compassare.]
      1. To go about or entirely round; to make the circuit of.

      Ye shall compass the city seven times. Josh. vi. 4.

      We the globe can compass soon. Shak.

      2. To inclose on all sides; to surround; to encircle; to environ; to invest; to besiege; -- used with about, round, around, and round about.

      With terrors and with clamors compassed round. Milton.

      Now all the blessings

      Of a glad father compass thee about. Shak.

      Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round. Luke xix. 43.

      3. To reach round; to circumvent; to get within one's power; to obtain; to accomplish.

      If I can check my erring love, I will:

      If not, to compass her I'll use my skill. Shak.

      How can you hope to compass your designs? Denham.

      4. To curve; to bend into a circular form. [Obs. except in carpentry and shipbuilding.] Shak.

      5. ( Law ) To purpose; to intend; to imagine; to plot.

      Compassing and imagining the death of the king are synonymous terms; compassing signifying the purpose or design of the mind or will, and not, as in common speech, the carrying such design to effect. Blackstone.