the act of substituting one thing for another; substitution; exchange.
the changing of a prison sentence or other penalty to another less severe.
the act of commuting, as to and from a place of work.
the substitution of one kind of payment for another.
Electricity. the act or process of commutating.
Also called commutation test. Linguistics. the technique, especially in phonological analysis, of substituting one linguistic item for another while keeping the surrounding elements constant, used as a means of determining the constituent units in a sequence and their contrasts with other units.

1400–50; late Middle English commutacioun < Latin commūtātiōn- (stem of commutātiō) change. See commute, -ation

procommutation, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
commutation (ˌkɒmjʊˈteɪʃən)
1.  a substitution or exchange
2.  a.  the replacement of one method of payment by another
 b.  the payment substituted
3.  the reduction in severity of a penalty imposed by law
4.  the process of commutating an electric current
5.  (US) the travelling done by a commuter

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1496, from Fr. commutacion (13c.), from L. commutationem (nom. commutatio) "a change, alteration," noun of action from commutare "to change, alter entirely" (see commute).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in law, shortening of a term of punishment or lowering of the level of punishment. For example, a 10-year jail sentence may be commuted to 5 years, or a sentence of death may be commuted to life in prison. Often, after a person has served part of his sentence, the remainder is commuted owing to specific circumstances. Commutation of sentence differs from pardon, which, if unconditional, removes the stigma both of the court decision and of the punishment and restores the person's civil rights; commutation does neither. Commutation is also distinguished from reprieve, which merely delays or temporarily suspends the sentence

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
In each case the commutation was granted because, as was stated, of the
  prisoner's age and state of health.
Appeals and commutation are integral parts of the process.
Counsel asked for a commutation of sentence on the ground of insanity.
All applications for pardon, commutation of sentence, or reprieve shall be made
  in writing to the adult parole authority.
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