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[kuh-myoot] /kəˈmyut/
verb (used with object), commuted, commuting.
to change (a prison sentence or other penalty) to a less severe one:
The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
to exchange for another or for something else; give and take reciprocally; interchange.
to change:
to commute base metal into gold.
to change (one kind of payment) into or for another, as by substitution.
verb (used without object), commuted, commuting.
to travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back:
He commutes to work by train.
to make substitution.
to serve as a substitute.
to make a collective payment, especially of a reduced amount, as an equivalent for a number of payments.
Mathematics. to give the same result whether operating on the left or on the right.
a trip made by commuting:
It's a long commute from his home to his office.
an act or instance of commuting.
Origin of commute
late Middle English
1400-50; 1885-90 for def 5; late Middle English < Latin commūtāre to change, replace, exchange, equivalent to com- com- + mūtāre to change
Related forms
uncommuted, adjective
Can be confused
commute, forgive, pardon (see synonym study at pardon) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for commuted
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Accordingly, Thiers commuted the sentence of transportation on 4th January, 1872, to one of simple banishment.

    Anarchism E. V. Zenker
  • His sentence to be shot was commuted to imprisonment for life.

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • This was commuted in the end for £200,000 cash, very grudgingly paid out of the first loan raised by a New Zealand parliament.

    The Long White Cloud William Pember Reeves
  • On other estates the serfs' compulsory labor was commuted for a quitrent.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
  • When the end came, his sentence to be hanged at Tyburn was commuted by the king to beheadal at Tower Hill.

    Milton's England Lucia Ames Mead
British Dictionary definitions for commuted


(intransitive) to travel some distance regularly between one's home and one's place of work
(transitive) to substitute; exchange
(transitive) (law) to reduce (a sentence) to one less severe
to pay (an annuity) at one time, esp with a discount, instead of in instalments
(transitive) to transform; change: to commute base metal into gold
(intransitive) to act as or be a substitute
(intransitive) to make a substitution; change
a journey made by commuting
Derived Forms
commutable, adjective
commutability, commutableness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin commutāre to replace, from com- mutually + mutāre to change
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 commuted



mid-15c., "to change, transform," from Latin commutare "to often change, to change altogether," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + mutare "to change" (see mutable). Sense of "make less severe" is 1630s. Sense of "go back and forth to work" is 1889, from commutation ticket "season pass" (on a railroad, streetcar line, etc.), from commute in its sense of "to change one kind of payment into another" (1795), especially "to combine a number of payments into a single one." Related: Commuted; commuting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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commuted in Science
To yield the same result regardless of order. For example, numbers commute under addition, which is a commutative operation. Generally, any two operators H and G commute if their commutator is zero, i.e. HG - GH = 0.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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