[ kom-yuh-tey-shuh n ]
/ ˌkɒm yəˈteɪ ʃən /


the act of substituting one thing for another; substitution; exchange.
the changing of a prison sentence or other penalty to another less severe.
the act of commuting, as to and from a place of work.
the substitution of one kind of payment for another.
Electricity. the act or process of commutating.
Also called commutation test. Linguistics. the technique, especially in phonological analysis, of substituting one linguistic item for another while keeping the surrounding elements constant, used as a means of determining the constituent units in a sequence and their contrasts with other units.

Origin of commutation

1400–50; late Middle English commutacioun < Latin commūtātiōn- (stem of commutātiō) change. See commute, -ation
Related formspro·com·mu·ta·tion, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for commutation

British Dictionary definitions for commutation


/ (ˌkɒmjʊˈteɪʃən) /


a substitution or exchange
  1. the replacement of one method of payment by another
  2. the payment substituted
the reduction in severity of a penalty imposed by law
the process of commutating an electric current
US the travelling done by a commuter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for commutation



mid-15c., from Old French commutacion "change, transformation, exchange, barter" (13c., Modern French commutation), from Latin commutationem (nominative commutatio) "a change, alteration," noun of action from past participle stem of commutare "to change, alter entirely" (see commute (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper