box the compass


4 [boks]
verb (used with object)
Nautical. to boxhaul (often followed by off ).
Meteorology. to fly around the center of a storm in a boxlike pattern in order to gather meteorological data: to box a storm.
box the compass, Nautical. to recite all of the points of the compass in a clockwise order.

1745–55; probably < Spanish bojar to sail around, earlier boxar, perhaps < Catalan vogir to (cause to) turn ≪ Latin volvere (see revolve); influenced by box1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
box1 (bɒks)
1.  a receptacle or container made of wood, cardboard, etc, usually rectangular and having a removable or hinged lid
2.  Also called: boxful the contents of such a receptacle or the amount it can contain: he ate a whole box of chocolates
3.  any of various containers for a specific purpose: a money box; letter box
4.  (often in combination) any of various small cubicles, kiosks, or shelters: a telephone box or callbox; a sentry box; a signal box on a railway
5.  a separate compartment in a public place for a small group of people, as in a theatre or certain restaurants
6.  jury box See witness box an enclosure within a courtroom
7.  loosebox See horsebox a compartment for a horse in a stable or a vehicle
8.  (Brit) a small country house occupied by sportsmen when following a field sport, esp shooting
9.  a.  a protective housing for machinery or mechanical parts
 b.  the contents of such a box
 c.  (in combination): a gearbox
10.  a shaped device of light tough material worn by sportsmen to protect the genitals, esp in cricket
11.  a section of printed matter on a page, enclosed by lines, a border, or white space
12.  a central agency to which mail is addressed and from which it is collected or redistributed: a post-office box; to reply to a box number in a newspaper advertisement
13.  the central part of a computer or the casing enclosing it
14.  short for penalty box
15.  baseball either of the designated areas in which the batter may stand
16.  the raised seat on which the driver sits in a horse-drawn coach
17.  (NZ) a wheeled container for transporting coal in a mine
18.  (Austral), (NZ) an accidental mixing of herds or flocks
19.  a hole cut into the base of a tree to collect the sap
20.  short for Christmas box
21.  a device for dividing water into two or more ditches in an irrigation system
22.  an informal name for a coffin
23.  taboo, slang the female genitals
24.  (NZ) be a box of birds to be very well indeed
25.  informal (Brit) the box television
26.  think outside the box, think out of the box to think in a different, innovative, or original manner, esp with regard to business practices, products, systems, etc
27.  tick all the boxes to satisfy all of the apparent requirements for success
28.  informal (Austral) out of the box outstanding or excellent: a day out of the box
vb (foll by in) (sometimes foll by up)
29.  (tr) to put into a box
30.  (tr; usually foll by in or up) to prevent from moving freely; confine
31.  printing to enclose (text) within a ruled frame
32.  (tr) to make a cut in the base of (a tree) in order to collect the sap
33.  (Austral), (NZ) (tr) to mix (flocks or herds) accidentally
34.  (NZ) to confuse: I am all boxed up
35.  nautical short for boxhaul
36.  nautical box the compass to name the compass points in order
[Old English box, from Latin buxus from Greek puxosbox³]

box2 (bɒks)
1.  (tr) to fight (an opponent) in a boxing match
2.  (intr) to engage in boxing
3.  (tr) to hit (a person) with the fist; punch or cuff
4.  box clever to behave in a careful and cunning way
5.  a punch with the fist, esp on the ear
[C14: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Dutch boken to shunt, push into position]

box3 (bɒks)
1.  a dense slow-growing evergreen tree or shrub of the genus Buxus, esp B. sempervirens, which has small shiny leaves and is used for hedges, borders, and garden mazes: family Buxaceae
2.  See boxwood the wood of this tree
3.  any of several trees the timber or foliage of which resembles this tree, esp various species of Eucalyptus with rough bark
[Old English, from Latin buxus]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. box "a wooden container," also "type of shrub," from L.L. buxis, from Gk. pyxis "boxwood box," from pyxos "box tree," of uncertain origin. Ger. Büchse also is a Latin loan word. Slang meaning "vulva" is attested 17c., according to "Dictionary of American Slang;" modern use seems to date from
c.WWII, perhaps originally Australian, and on notion of "box of tricks." Boxy is attested from 1861. Box office is 1786; in the figurative sense of "financial element of a performance" it is first recorded 1904.

"a blow," c.1300, of uncertain origin, possibly related to M.Du. boke, M.H.G. buc and Dan. bask, all meaning "a blow," perhaps imitative. The verb meaning "to fight with the fists" is from 1560s. Boxing as a sport is first recorded 1711.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Box definition

for holding oil or perfumery (Mark 14:3). It was of the form of a flask or bottle. The Hebrew word (pak) used for it is more appropriately rendered "vial" in 1 Sam. 10:1, and should also be so rendered in 2 Kings 9:1, where alone else it occurs.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

box the compass

Make a complete turnabout or reversal, as in With a change of ownership, the editorial page boxed the compass politically, now supporting the Senator. Originally this was (and continues to be) a nautical term, meaning "repeat the 32 points of the compass in order." In the early 1800s it began to be used figuratively.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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