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[v. kuh m-pres; n. kom-pres] /v. kəmˈprɛs; n. ˈkɒm prɛs/
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.
Medicine/Medical. a soft, cloth pad held in place by a bandage and used to provide pressure or to supply moisture, cold, heat, or medication.
an apparatus for compressing cotton bales.
a warehouse for storing cotton bales before shipment.
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 forms
compressible, adjective
compressibly, adverb
compressingly, adverb
noncompressible, adjective
overcompress, verb (used with object)
precompress, verb (used with object)
uncompressible, adjective
1. condense, squeeze, constrict. See contract.
1. expand, spread. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for compress
  • Usually, some of the turbine's mechanical power is diverted to compress the air.
  • There were some rhetoricians who could compress epics into single, epigrammatical sentences.
  • In some areas, the euro will compress a number of financial markets into one.
  • Any tumor may compress regions of the brain and increase internal pressure, upsetting the organ's delicate functional balance.
  • It turns out that the app does actually compress data, but not how you think.
  • The idea sounds simple: compress air and release it to operate a piston engine.
  • One answer is to use the energy to compress air, which can be squirrelled away in hermetically sealed underground caverns.
  • Even as stellar winds push open the cavity, they compress material near the center of the hollow, spurring new stars to form.
  • Sprains and inflammation can be eased by the timely application of some ice or a cold compress.
  • Because we're recording so much less data to begin with, there will be no need to compress.
British Dictionary definitions for compress


verb (kəmˈprɛs)
(transitive) 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 Forms
compressible, adjective
compressibleness, noun
compressibly, adverb
Word Origin
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
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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
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compress in Medicine

compress com·press (kŏm'prěs')
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. v. com·pressed, com·press·ing, com·press·es (kəm-prěs')
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.
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compress in Technology

1. To feed data through any compression algorithm.
2. The Unix program "compress", now largely supplanted by gzip.
Unix compress was written in C by Joseph M. Orost, James A. Woods et al., and was widely circulated via Usenet. It uses the Lempel-Ziv Welch algorithm and normally produces files with the suffix ".Z".
Compress uses variable length codes. Initially, nine-bit codes are output until they are all used. When this occurs, ten-bit codes are used and so on, until an implementation-dependent maximum is reached.
After every 10 kilobytes of input the compression ratio is checked. If it is decreasing then the entire string table is discarded and information is collected from scratch.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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