the act or state of compensating, as by rewarding someone for service or by making up for someone's loss, damage, or injury by giving the injured party an appropriate benefit.
the state of being compensated or rewarded in this way.
something given or received as an equivalent for services, debt, loss, injury, suffering, lack, etc.; indemnity: The insurance company paid him $2000 as compensation for the loss of his car.
Biology. the improvement of any defect by the excessive development or action of another structure or organ of the same structure.
Psychology. a mechanism by which an individual attempts to make up for some real or imagined deficiency of personality or behavior by developing or stressing another aspect of the personality or by substituting a different form of behavior.

Origin of compensation

1350–1400; Middle English compensacioun < Latin compēnsātiōn- (stem of compēnsātiō), equivalent to compēnsāt(us) (see compensate) + -iōn- -ion
Related formscom·pen·sa·tion·al, adjectivenon·com·pen·sa·tion, nounpre·com·pen·sa·tion, nounpro·com·pen·sa·tion, adjectivesub·com·pen·sa·tion, nounsub·com·pen·sa·tion·al, adjective

Synonyms for compensation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for compensation

Contemporary Examples of compensation

Historical Examples of compensation

  • Had they still been in his possession, that would have been some compensation.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • All sorts of labor is got at enormous rates of compensation.

  • She had learned the law of compensation: that for every joy one pays in suffering.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • If I carried with me a sad heart, there yet were already visible the dawnings of compensation.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • If he acts in good faith he is not obnoxious to punishment--but entitled to compensation?


    Theodor Hertzka

British Dictionary definitions for compensation



the act or process of making amends for something
something given as reparation for loss, injury, etc; indemnity
the automatic movements made by the body to maintain balance
the attempt to conceal or offset one's shortcomings by the exaggerated exhibition of qualities regarded as desirable
biology abnormal growth and increase in size in one organ in response to the removal or inactivation of another
Derived Formscompensational, adjective
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 compensation

late 14c., "action of compensating," from Latin compensationem (nominative compensatio) "a weighing one thing against another, a balancing," noun of action from past participle stem of compensare (see compensate). Meaning "what is given in recompense" is from c.1600; meaning "amends for loss or damages" is from 1804; meaning "salary, wages" is attested from 1787, American English. The psychological sense is from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

compensation in Medicine




A process in which a tendency for a change in a given direction is counteracted by another change so that the original change is not evident.
An unconscious psychological mechanism by which one tries to make up for imagined or real deficiencies in personality or physical ability.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.