(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: "the range of a supersonic jet"
"The ambit of municipal legislation"
"Within the compass of this article"
"Within the scope of an investigation"
"Outside the reach of the law"
"In the political orbit of a world power"
(4)   The limit of capability
"Within the compass of education"


(5)   Get the meaning of something
"Do you comprehend the meaning of this letter?"
(6)   Travel around, either by plane or ship
"We compassed the earth"
(7)   Bring about; accomplish
"This writer attempts more than his talents can compass"


For noun: < < < < + ; see pass, pace.

For verb: < < ; from the noun; see compass as a noun.


  1. A magnetic or electronic device used to determine the cardinal directions (usually magnetic north).
  2. A pair of compasses (a device used with a pencil to draw an arc or circle on paper).
  3. The range of notes of a musical instrument or voice.
  4. A space within limits; area.
    • 1763, M. Le Page Du Pratz, History of Louisiana (PG), p. 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.
  5. scope
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. § 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.


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


  • And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.


: encircle, environ, surround: cover, traverse: accomplish, achieve, attain, gain, get to, reach: conspire, plot, scheme


  1. In a circuit; round about.
    • 1658, Near the same plot of ground, for about six yards compasse were digged up coals and incinerated substances — Sir Thomas Browne, Urne-Burial (Penguin 2005, p. 9)