Definition of compass noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈkʌmpəs//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkʌmpəs//
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  1. 1 (also magnetic compass) [countable] an instrument for finding direction, with a needle that always points to the north a map and compass the points of the compass (= N, S, E, W, etc.) see also moral compass Wordfindercompass, globe, GPS, grid, key, latitude, map, navigate, reference, scale See related entries: Hobbies
  2. 2 [countable] (also compasses [plural]) an instrument with two long thin parts joined together at the top, used for drawing circles and measuring distances on a map a pair of compasses
  3. 3[singular] (formal) a range or an extent, especially of what can be achieved in a particular situation the compass of a singer’s voice (= the range from the lowest to the highest note that he or she can sing)
  4. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French compas (noun), compasser (verb), based on Latin com- ‘together’ + passus ‘a step or pace’. Several senses (‘measure’, ‘artifice’, ‘circumscribed area’, and ‘pair of compasses’) which appeared in Middle English are also found in Old French, but their development and origin are uncertain. The transference of sense to the magnetic compass occurred in the related Italian word compasso, from the circular shape of the compass box.Extra examples A compass shows you which direction is north. People arrived from all points of the compass. The railway fanned out from Moscow to all points of the compass.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: compass

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