compass

Long before we had GPS (Global Positioning System) devices, people used a magnetic instrument called a compass for navigation. Some people still use a compass to navigate — usually when their GPS isn’t working.

Compass can also refer to another type of instrument, one that’s used for drawing circles; this should be familiar to you if you have ever studied geometry. In addition, compass can mean "range" or "scope." If you decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, using a compass (the navigational kind) should hopefully fall within your compass of ability. If not, we hope you own a reliable GPS.

Primary Meanings of compass

1.
n
navigational instrument for finding directions
2.
n
drafting instrument used for drawing circles
3.
n
an area in which something acts or operates or has power or control: "the range of a supersonic jet"
4.
v
travel around, either by plane or ship
5.
v
bring about; accomplish
6.
v
get the meaning of something
Full Definitions of compass
1

n navigational instrument for finding directions

Types:
gyrocompass
a compass that does not depend on magnetism but uses a gyroscope instead
magnetic compass
compass based on an indicator (as a magnetic needle) that points to the magnetic north
compass card, mariner's compass
compass in the form of a card that rotates so that 0 degrees or North points to magnetic north
Type of:
navigational instrument
an instrument used for navigating
2

n drafting instrument used for drawing circles

Type of:
drafting instrument
an instrument used by a draftsman in making drawings
3

n an area in which something acts or operates or has power or control: "the range of a supersonic jet"

“within the compass of this article”
Synonyms:
ambit, orbit, range, reach, scope
Types:
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approximate range, ballpark
near to the scope or range of something
confines
a bounded scope
contrast
the range of optical density and tone on a photographic negative or print (or the extent to which adjacent areas on a television screen differ in brightness)
internationalism, internationality
quality of being international in scope
latitude
scope for freedom of e.g. action or thought; freedom from restriction
horizon, purview, view
the range of interest or activity that can be anticipated
expanse, sweep
a wide scope
gamut
a complete extent or range: "a face that expressed a gamut of emotions"
spectrum
a broad range of related objects or values or qualities or ideas or activities
palette, pallet
the range of colour characteristic of a particular artist or painting or school of art
Type of:
extent
the distance or area or volume over which something extends

n the limit of capability

“within the compass of education”
Synonyms:
grasp, range, reach
Types:
ken, sight
the range of vision
Type of:
capability, capableness, potentiality
an aptitude that may be developed
4

v travel around, either by plane or ship

“We compassed the earth”
Synonyms:
circumnavigate
Type of:
circle
travel around something
5

v bring about; accomplish

“This writer attempts more than his talents can compass
Type of:
accomplish, achieve, attain, reach
to gain with effort
6

v get the meaning of something

Synonyms:
apprehend, comprehend, dig, get the picture, grasp, grok, savvy
Types:
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figure
understand
catch on, cotton on, get it, get onto, get wise, latch on, tumble, twig
understand, usually after some initial difficulty
intuit
know or grasp by intuition or feeling
digest
arrange and integrate in the mind
Type of:
understand
know and comprehend the nature or meaning of

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