The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Compass \Com"pass\ (k[u^]m"pas), 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.
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.
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
He that first discovered the use of the compass did
more for the supplying and increase of useful
commodities than those who built workhouses.
8. A pair of compasses. [R.] See Compasses.
To fix one foot of their compass wherever they
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
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
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.