[adjective kuhm-pakt, kom-, kom-pakt; verb kuhm-pakt; noun kom-pakt]
  1. joined or packed together; closely and firmly united; dense; solid: compact soil.
  2. arranged within a relatively small space: a compact shopping center; a compact kitchen.
  3. designed to be small in size and economical in operation.
  4. solidly or firmly built: the compact body of a lightweight wrestler.
  5. expressed concisely; pithy; terse; not diffuse: a compact review of the week's news.
  6. composed or made (usually followed by of): a book compact of form and content.
  7. Also bicompact. Mathematics. (of a set) having the property that in any collection of open sets whose union contains the given set there exists a finite number of open sets whose union contains the given set; having the property that every open cover has a finite subcover.
verb (used with object)
  1. to join or pack closely together; consolidate; condense.
  2. to make firm or stable.
  3. to form or make by close union or conjunction; make up or compose.
  4. Metallurgy. to compress (metallic or metallic and nonmetallic powders) in a die to be sintered.
  5. to crush into compact form for convenient disposal or for storage until disposal: to compact rubbish.
  1. a small case containing a mirror, face powder, a puff, and sometimes rouge.
  2. Also called compact car. an automobile that is smaller than an intermediate but larger than a subcompact and generally has a combined passenger and luggage volume of 100–110 cu. ft. (2.8–3.1 m3).
  3. Metallurgy. (in powder metallurgy) an object to be sintered formed of metallic or of metallic and nonmetallic powders compressed in a die.

Origin of compact

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin compāctus (past participle of compingere to shut away, bind together), equivalent to com- com- + pag-, variant stem of pangere to fix, arrange (akin to pāx peace; cf. pact, compact2) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formscom·pact·ed·ly, adverbcom·pact·ed·ness, nouncom·pact·ly, adverbcom·pact·ness, nounun·com·pact·ed, adjectivewell-com·pact·ed, adjective

Synonyms for compact Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for compactly

Historical Examples of compactly

  • They were all small and compactly built; but Arethusa had got her height from her father.

    The Heart of Arethusa

    Francis Barton Fox

  • What pure English words could have rendered these things as compactly and graphically?

    Robert Burns

    Principal Shairp.

  • He was himself well and compactly made, and strong of his age.

  • Its difference from other books is that it deals with all of its subjects so compactly.

    The Greatest English Classic

    Cleland Boyd McAfee

  • "It is just what Julian needs," she said compactly as she folded and sealed and stamped it.

    Aunt Jane

    Jennette Lee

British Dictionary definitions for compactly


adjective (kəmˈpækt, ˈkɒmpækt)
  1. closely packed together; dense
  2. neatly fitted into a restricted space
  3. concise; brief
  4. well constructed; solid; firm
  5. (foll by of) composed or made up (of)
  6. denoting a tabloid-sized version of a newspaper that has traditionally been published in broadsheet form
  7. logic (of a relation) having the property that for any pair of elements such that a is related to b, there is some element c such that a is related to c and c to b, as less than on the rational numbers
  8. US and Canadian (of a car) small and economical
verb (kəmˈpækt) (tr)
  1. to pack or join closely together; compress; condense
  2. (foll by of) to create or form by pressing togethersediment compacted of three types of clay
  3. metallurgy to compress (a metal powder) to form a stable product suitable for sintering
noun (ˈkɒmpækt)
  1. a small flat case containing a mirror, face powder, etc, designed to be carried in a woman's handbag
  2. US and Canadian a comparatively small and economical car
  3. metallurgy a mass of metal prepared for sintering by cold-pressing a metal powder
  4. a tabloid-sized version of a newspaper that has traditionally been publis hed in broadsheet form
Derived Formscompacter, nouncompaction, nouncompactly, adverbcompactness, noun

Word Origin for compact

C16: from Latin compactus, from compingere to put together, from com- together + pangere to fasten


  1. an official contract or agreement

Word Origin for compact

C16: from Latin compactum, from compaciscī to agree, from com- together + paciscī to contract; see pact
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 compactly



late 14c., from Middle French compact (14c.) or directly from Latin compactus "concentrated," past participle of compingere "to fasten together, construct," from com- "with, together" (see com-) + pangere "to fix, fasten" (see pact). Compact car is 1960. Compact disc is from 1979.



"agreement," 1590s, from Latin compactum "agreement," noun use of neuter past participle of compacisci "come to agreement," from com- "together" (see com-) + pacisci "to covenant, contract" (see pact).



early 15c., from Latin compactus, past participle of compingere "to fasten together" (see compact (adj.)). Related: Compacted; compacting.



"make-up case," 1921, from compact (adj.), based on its containing compacted face powder.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper