[ adjective kom-pound, kom-pound; noun kom-pound; verb kuhm-pound, kom-pound ]
See synonyms for: compoundcompoundedcompoundingcompounds on

  1. composed of two or more parts, elements, or ingredients: Soap is a compound substance.

  2. having or involving two or more actions or functions: The mouth is a compound organ.

  1. Grammar. of or relating to a compound sentence or compound-complex sentence.

  2. (of a word)

    • consisting of two or more parts that are also bases, forming a compound noun,compound adjective,compound verb, or compound preposition, as housetop, many-sided, playact, or upon.

    • consisting of any two or more parts that have identifiable meaning, as a base and a noninflectional affix (return, follower), a base and a combining form (biochemistry), two combining forms (ethnography), or a combining form and a noninflectional affix (aviary, dentoid).

  3. (of a verb tense) consisting of an auxiliary verb and a main verb, as are swimming, have spoken, or will write (opposed to simple).

  4. Botany. composed of several similar parts that combine to form a whole: a compound fruit.

  5. Zoology. composed of a number of distinct individuals that are connected to form a united whole or colony, as coral.

  6. Music. of or relating to compound time.

  7. Machinery. noting an engine or turbine expanding the same steam or the like in two successive chambers to do work at two ranges of pressure.

  1. something formed by compounding or combining parts, elements, etc.

  2. Chemistry. a pure substance composed of two or more elements whose composition is constant.

  1. a compound word, especially one composed of two or more words that are otherwise unaltered, as moonflower or rainstorm.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put together into a whole; combine: to compound drugs to form a new medicine.

  2. to make or form by combining parts, elements, etc.; construct: to compound a new plan from parts of several former plans.

  1. to make up or constitute: all the organs and members that compound a human body.

  2. to settle or adjust by agreement, especially for a reduced amount, as a debt.

  3. Law. to agree, for a consideration, not to prosecute or punish a wrongdoer for: to compound a crime or felony.

  4. to pay (interest) on the accrued interest as well as the principal: My bank compounds interest quarterly.

  5. to increase or add to: The misery of his loneliness was now compounded by his poverty.

  6. Electricity. to connect a portion of the field turns of (a direct-current dynamo) in series with the armature circuit.

verb (used without object)
  1. to make a bargain; come to terms; compromise.

  2. to settle a debt, claim, etc., by compromise.

  1. to form a compound.

Origin of compound

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English verb componen, compounen, compownen, from Old French compon- (stem of compondre ), from Latin compōnere, equivalent to com- com- + pōnere “to put”; Middle English adjective compouned, past participle of componen, as above

word story For compound

The English verb compound, first appearing in Middle English in the late 14th century as compounen, compownen, comes from Old French compondre, compundre “to direct, arrange,” from Latin compōnere “to put together, add together, match, match up.” The adjective compound, originally a past participle of the verb, is also recorded at the end of the 14th century. The noun, a development of the adjectival sense, is recorded considerably later, in the first half of the 16th century.
The final, unetymological -d in compound arose during the 16th century; it is of the same origin as the -d in the English word sound (meaning “noise”), which developed from the earlier English soun (from Old French son, from Latin sonus ), and the archaic verb round “to whisper,” a derivative of rune “a secret.”

Other words from compound

  • com·pound·a·ble, adjective
  • com·pound·ed·ness, noun
  • com·pound·er, noun
  • non·com·pound·a·ble, adjective
  • un·com·pound·a·ble, adjective
  • un·com·pound·ed, adjective
  • un·com·pound·ing, adjective

Other definitions for compound (2 of 2)

[ kom-pound ]

  1. an enclosure, especially one for prisoners.

  2. an enclosed or protected area where a group of people live or work, such as a military base.

  1. any separate cluster of homes, often owned by members of the same family.

Origin of compound

First recorded in 1670–80; alteration, by association with compound1, of Malay kampung “village, collection, gathering”; cf. kampong

word story For compound

The noun compound “a large, enclosed area” most likely comes from Malay kampong, kampung “fenced-in space, enclosure, village, a part of town inhabited by a particular nationality.” Compound originally referred to the European (originally Portuguese, Dutch, English) complexes of residences, factories, and warehouses in the East Indies, India, and China. Kampong, kampung was associated in English with the noun compound “something consisting of several parts” by 1679, when the sense “a large, enclosed area” is first recorded. The term was also used in the 19th century to describe a similar confined living area for African laborers, especially miners. By the mid-20th century, the sense of “large, walled-in space in a prison or other detention camp” first appears. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use compound in a sentence

  • Yana, an Indian language of California, can freely compound noun with noun and verb with noun, but not verb with verb.

    Language | Edward Sapir
  • These two words, bu and shi, were put together and made a compound noun, signifying professional military people.

    A Fantasy of Far Japan | Baron Kencho Suyematsu
  • Ov mow dhe vowel and servile coalesce, (az in sow,) into' a dipthong, in dhe compound noun barley-mow.

  • The means of enforcing these exactions is always at hand, and is expressed in one fateful and compound noun, law-suit.

    Village Life in China | Arthur H. Smith
  • A noun consisting of two or more words united is called a compound noun.

British Dictionary definitions for compound (1 of 2)


  1. a substance that contains atoms of two or more chemical elements held together by chemical bonds

  2. any combination of two or more parts, aspects, etc

  1. a word formed from two existing words or combining forms

verb(kəmˈpaʊnd) (mainly tr)
  1. to mix or combine so as to create a compound or other product

  2. to make by combining parts, elements, aspects, etc: to compound a new plastic

  1. to intensify by an added element: his anxiety was compounded by her crying

  2. finance to calculate or pay (interest) on both the principal and its accrued interest

  3. (also intr) to come to an agreement in (a quarrel, dispute, etc)

  4. (also intr) to settle (a debt, promise, etc) for less than what is owed; compromise

  5. law to agree not to prosecute in return for a consideration: to compound a crime

  6. electrical engineering to place duplex windings on the field coil of (a motor or generator), one acting as a shunt, the other being in series with the main circuit, thus making the machine self-regulating

  1. composed of or created by the combination of two or more parts, elements, etc

  2. (of a word) consisting of elements that are also words or productive combining forms

  1. (of a sentence) formed by coordination of two or more sentences

  2. (of a verb or the tense, mood, etc, of a verb) formed by using an auxiliary verb in addition to the main verb: the future in English is a compound tense involving the use of such auxiliary verbs as `` shall '' and `` will ''

  3. music

    • denoting a time in which the number of beats per bar is a multiple of three: six-four is an example of compound time

    • (of an interval) greater than an octave

  4. zoology another word for colonial (def. 6)

  5. (of a steam engine, turbine, etc) having multiple stages in which the steam or working fluid from one stage is used in a subsequent stage

  6. (of a piston engine) having a turbocharger powered by a turbine in the exhaust stream

Origin of compound

C14: from earlier compounen, from Old French compondre to collect, set in order, from Latin compōnere

Derived forms of compound

  • compoundable, adjective
  • compounder, noun

British Dictionary definitions for compound (2 of 2)


/ (ˈkɒmpaʊnd) /

  1. (esp formerly in South Africa) an enclosure, esp on the mines, containing the living quarters for Black workers

  2. any similar enclosure, such as a camp for prisoners of war

  1. (formerly in India, China, etc) the enclosure in which a European's house or factory stood

Origin of compound

C17: by folk etymology (influenced by compound 1) from Malay kampong village

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

Scientific definitions for compound


[ kŏmpound′ ]

  1. A substance consisting of atoms or ions of two or more different elements in definite proportions joined by chemical bonds into a molecule. The elements cannot be separated by physical means. Water, for example, is a compound having two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom per molecule.

  1. Composed of more than one part, as a compound eye or leaf.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for compound


In chemistry, a substance containing two or more elements in definite proportions.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.