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 commuted

Contemporary Examples of commuted

Historical Examples of commuted

  • His sentence to be shot was commuted to imprisonment for life.

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • The sentence was, however, commuted to transportation for life.

    Old Times at Otterbourne

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • On other estates the serfs' compulsory labor was commuted for a quitrent.

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

  • Then, will you give me a paper stating that his sentence is commuted?

    Roger Willoughby

    William H. G. Kingston

  • His sentence was, however, commuted by the Governor to imprisonment for life.

    Venus in Boston;

    George Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for commuted


  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 commuted



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

commuted 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.