See more synonyms for commute on
verb (used with object), com·mut·ed, com·mut·ing.
  1. to change (a prison sentence or other penalty) to a less severe one: The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
  2. to exchange for another or for something else; give and take reciprocally; interchange.
  3. to change: to commute base metal into gold.
  4. to change (one kind of payment) into or for another, as by substitution.
verb (used without object), com·mut·ed, com·mut·ing.
  1. to travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back: He commutes to work by train.
  2. to make substitution.
  3. to serve as a substitute.
  4. to make a collective payment, especially of a reduced amount, as an equivalent for a number of payments.
  5. Mathematics. to give the same result whether operating on the left or on the right.
  1. a trip made by commuting: It's a long commute from his home to his office.
  2. an act or instance of commuting.

Origin of commute

1400–50; 1885–90 for def 5; late Middle English < Latin commūtāre to change, replace, exchange, equivalent to com- com- + mūtāre to change
Related formsun·com·mut·ed, adjective
Can be confusedcommute forgive pardon (see synonym study at pardon) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for commute

Contemporary Examples of commute

Historical Examples of commute

  • Will you be her true natural father, or shall I commute paternity?

    Maid Marian

    Thomas Love Peacock

  • The Governor refuses him a pardon, nor will he commute my son's sentence.

  • It is evident that the man who passed the sentence could commute it, he said.

    The Dust of Conflict

    David Goodger (

  • He seemed at times to be asking God to commute these penalties.

    Les Misrables

    Victor Hugo

  • At the same time, he held out very little hope that anything could be done to commute the sentence.

    The Great War As I Saw It

    Frederick George Scott

British Dictionary definitions for commute


  1. (intr) to travel some distance regularly between one's home and one's place of work
  2. (tr) to substitute; exchange
  3. (tr) law to reduce (a sentence) to one less severe
  4. to pay (an annuity) at one time, esp with a discount, instead of in instalments
  5. (tr) to transform; changeto commute base metal into gold
  6. (intr) to act as or be a substitute
  7. (intr) to make a substitution; change
  1. a journey made by commuting
Derived Formscommutable, adjectivecommutability or commutableness, noun

Word Origin for commute

C17: from Latin commutāre to replace, from com- mutually + mutāre to change
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 commute

mid-15c., "to change, transform," from Latin commutare "to often change, to change altogether," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + mutare "to change" (see mutable). Sense of "make less severe" is 1630s. Sense of "go back and forth to work" is 1889, from commutation ticket "season pass" (on a railroad, streetcar line, etc.), from commute in its sense of "to change one kind of payment into another" (1795), especially "to combine a number of payments into a single one." Related: Commuted; commuting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

commute in Science


  1. To yield the same result regardless of order. For example, numbers commute under addition, which is a commutative operation. Generally, any two operators H and G commute if their commutator is zero, i.e. HG - GH = 0.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.