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Bible Dictionaries

King James Dictionary


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1. Stretch reach extent the limit or boundary of a space, and the space included applied to time, space, sound, &c. Our knowledge lies within a very narrow compass. The universe extends beyond the compass of our thoughts. So we say, the compass of a year, the compass of an empire, the compass of reason, the compass of the voice.

And in that compass all the world contains.

2. A passing round a circular course a circuit.

Time is come round

and where I did begin, thee shall I end:

My life has run its compass.

They fetched a compass of seven days journey. 2 Kings 3 . 2 Samuel 5 . Acts 28 .

3. Moderate bounds limits of truth moderation due limits.

In two hundred years, (I speak within compass,) no such commission had been executed.

This sense is the same as the first, and the peculiar force of the phrase lies in the word within.

4. The extent or limit of the voice or of sound.
5. An instrument for directing or ascertaining the course of ships at sea, consisting of a circular box, containing a paper card marked with the thirty two points of direction, fixed on a magnetic needle, that always points to the north, the variation excepted. The needle with the card turns on a pin in the center of the box. In the center of the needle is fixed a brass conical socket or cap, by which the card hanging on the pin turns freely round the center. The box is covered with glass, to prevent the motion of the card from being disturbed by the wind.
6. Compass or compasses, or a pair of compasses, so named from its legs, but pair is superfluous or improper, and the singular number compass is the preferable name, an instrument for describing circles, measuring figures, &c., consisting of two pointed legs or branches, made of iron, steel or brass, joined at the top by a rivet, on which they move. There are also compasses of three legs or triangular compasses, cylindrical and spherical compasses with four branches, and various other kinds.
7. An instrument used in surveying land, constructed in the main like the mariners compass but with this difference, that the needle is not fitted into the card, moving with it, but plays alone the card being drawn on the bottom of the box, and a circle divided into 360 degrees on the limb. This instrument is used in surveying land, and in directing travelers in a desert or forest, miners, &c.

Compass-saw, a saw with a brad edge and thin back, to cut in a circular form.


1. To stretch round to extend so as to embrace the whole hence, to inclose, encircle, grasp or seize as, to compass with the arms.
2. To surround to environ to inclose on all sides sometimes followed by around, round or about.

Now all the blessings of a glad father compass thee about.

With favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield. Psalms 5 .

The willows of the brook compass him about. Job 40 .

3. To go or walk round.

Ye shall compass the city--and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times. Joshua 6 .

For ye compass sea and land. Math. 23.

4. To besiege to beleaguer to block up. This is not a different sense, but a particular application.

Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. Luke 19 .

5. To obtain to attain to to procure to bring within ones power to accomplish.

If I can check my erring love, I will

If not, to compass her Ill use my skill.

How can you hope to compass your designs?

6. To purpose to intend to imagine to plot to contrive as we say, to go about to perform, but in mind only as, to compass the death of the king.

Compassing and imaging the death of the king are synonymous terms compass signifying the purpose or design of the mind or will, and not, as in common speech, the carrying such design to effect.

Copyright Statement
Dictionary of Words from the King James Bible. Public Domain. Copy freely.
Material presented was supplied by Brandon Staggs and was derived from the KJV Dictionary found on his website located at
The unabridged 1828 version of this dictionary in the SwordSearcher Bible Software.

Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Compass'. King James Dictionary.

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