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box the compass

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Make a complete turnabout or reversal, as in With a change of ownership, the editorial page boxed the compass politically, now supporting the Senator. Originally this was (and continues to be) a nautical term, meaning “repeat the 32 points of the compass in order.” In the early 1800s it began to be used figuratively.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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