[kuh m-pres-er]
  1. a person or thing that compresses.
  2. Anatomy. a muscle that compresses some part of the body.
  3. Surgery. an instrument for compressing a part of the body.
  4. a pump or other machine for reducing volume and increasing pressure of gases in order to condense the gases, drive pneumatically powered machinery, etc.
  5. Electronics. a transducer that produces an output with a range of voltages whose ratio is smaller than that of the range of the input signal.Compare expander(def 2).

Origin of compressor

First recorded in 1745–55; compress + -or2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for compressor


  1. any reciprocating or rotating device that compresses a gas
  2. the part of a gas turbine that compresses the air before it enters the combustion chambers
  3. any muscle that causes compression of any part or structure
  4. a medical instrument for holding down a part of the body
  5. an electronic device for reducing the variation in signal amplitude in a transmission systemCompare expander, compander
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 compressor

1839, from Latin compressor, agent noun from comprimere (see compress (v.)). As a type of surgical instrument, from 1870. As short for air compressor, from 1874.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

compressor in Medicine


  1. A muscle that causes compression of a structure upon contraction.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.