[verb kuhm-pres; noun kom-pres]

verb (used with object)

to press together; force into less space.
to cause to become a solid mass: to compress cotton into bales.
to condense, shorten, or abbreviate: The book was compressed by 50 pages.
Computers. to reduce the storage space required for (data) by changing its format: The algorithm should compress the video file without losing any quality.


Origin of compress

1350–1400; (v.) Middle English (< Middle French compresser) < Late Latin compressāre, frequentative of Latin comprimere to squeeze together (see com-, press1); (noun) < Middle French compresse, noun derivative of the v.
Related formscom·press·i·ble, adjectivecom·press·i·bly, adverbcom·press·ing·ly, adverbnon·com·pres·si·ble, adjectiveo·ver·com·press, verb (used with object)pre·com·press, verb (used with object)un·com·press·i·ble, adjective

Synonyms for compress

Synonym study

1. See contract.

Antonyms for compress Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for compress

Contemporary Examples of compress

Historical Examples of compress

  • Compress and relax the skin repeatedly while immersed in both these baths.


    Leon Luther Pray

  • They can but compress it within moderate and tolerable limits.

  • I do not know how people manage to compress themselves into stones like that.

    In Convent Walls

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • The assistant is to follow the knife with his finger and compress the vessels.

  • A waistcoat made so tight as slightly to compress the bowels and stomach.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II

    Erasmus Darwin

British Dictionary definitions for compress


verb (kəmˈprɛs)

(tr) to squeeze together or compact into less space; condense
computing to apply a compression program to (electronic data) so that it takes up less space

noun (ˈkɒmprɛs)

a wet or dry cloth or gauze pad with or without medication, applied firmly to some part of the body to relieve discomfort, reduce fever, drain a wound, etc
a machine for packing material, esp cotton, under pressure
Derived Formscompressible, adjectivecompressibleness, nouncompressibly, adverb

Word Origin for compress

C14: from Late Latin compressāre, from Latin comprimere, from premere to press
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 compress

late 14c., "to press (something) together," from Old French compresser "compress, put under pressure," from Latin compressare "to press together," frequentative of comprimere "to squeeze," from com- "together" (see com-) + premere "to press" (see press (v.1)). Related: Compressed; compressing.


1590s in the surgical sense, from compress (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for compress




A soft pad of gauze or other material applied with pressure to a part of the body to control hemorrhage or to supply heat, cold, moisture, or medication to alleviate pain or reduce infection.


To press or squeeze together.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.