Meaning of compass

com•pass

Pronunciation: (kum'pus), [key]
— n.
  1. an instrument for determining directions, as by means of a freely rotating magnetized needle that indicates magnetic north.
  2. the enclosing line or limits of any area; perimeter: You can find anything you want downtown within the compass of ten square blocks.
  3. space within limits; area; extent; range; scope: the narrow compass of the strait; the broad compass of the novel.
  4. Also calledthe total range of tones of a voice or of a musical instrument.
  5. due or proper limits; moderate bounds: Their behavior stayed within the compass of propriety.
  6. a passing round; circuit: the compass of a year.
  7. Often,an instrument for drawing or describing circles, measuring distances, etc., consisting generally of two movable, rigid legs hinged to each other at one end (usually used with pair of&hasp;): to spread the legs of a compass and draw a larger circle.
  8. (cap.)
    1. Also calledMariner's Compass.the constellation Pyxis.
    2. Compasses,the constellation Circinus.
—adj.
  1. curved; forming a curve or arc: a compass timber; compass roof.
—v.t.
  1. to go or move round; make the circuit of: It would take a week to compass his property on foot.
  2. to extend or stretch around; hem in; surround; encircle: An old stone wall compasses their property.
  3. to attain or achieve; accomplish; obtain.
  4. to contrive; plot; scheme: to compass a treacherous plan.
  5. to make curved or circular.
  6. to comprehend; to grasp, as with the mind: His mind could not compass the extent of the disaster.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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