Pronunciation: (kum'pus), [key]
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 called range. the 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, compasses. 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): to spread the legs of a compass and draw a larger circle.
8. (cap.) Astron.
a. Also called Mariner's Compass. the constellation Pyxis.
b. Compasses,the constellation Circinus.
curved; forming a curve or arc: a compass timber; compass roof.
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.