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Etymology 1Edit

Borrowed from Latin commūtō.


commute (third-person singular simple present commutes, present participle commuting, simple past and past participle commuted)

  1. To exchange substantially; to abate but not abolish completely, a penalty, obligation, or payment in return for a great, single thing or an aggregate; to cash in; to lessen
    to commute tithes into rentcharges for a sum; to commute market rents for a premium, to commute daily fares for a season ticket
    1. (transitive, finance, law) To pay, or arrange to pay, in advance, in a lump sum instead of part by part.
      to commute the daily toll for a year's pass
    2. (transitive, law, criminology) To reduce the sentence previously given for a criminal offense.
      • Macaulay
        The utmost that could be obtained was that her sentence should be commuted from burning to beheading.
      His prison sentence was commuted to probation.
    3. (transitive, insurance, pensions) To pay out the lumpsum present value of an annuity, instead of paying in instalments; to cash in; to encash
    4. (intransitive, obsolete) To obtain or bargain for exemption or substitution;
      • (Can we date this quote?) Jeremy Taylor:
        He [] thinks it unlawful to commute, and that he is bound to pay his vow in kind.
  2. (intransitive, mathematics) Of an operation, to be commutative, i.e. to have the property that changing the order of the operands does not change the result.
    A pair of matrices share the same set of eigenvectors if and only if they commute.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From commutation ticket, a pass on a railroad, streetcar line, etc. that permitted multiple rides over a period of time, eg, a month, for a single, commuted payment.


commute (plural commutes)

  1. A regular journey to or from a place of employment, such as work or school.
  2. The route, time or distance of that journey.


commute (third-person singular simple present commutes, present participle commuting, simple past and past participle commuted)

  1. (intransitive) To regularly travel from one's home to one's workplace or school, or vice versa.
    I commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan by bicycle.
  2. (intransitive) To journey, to make a journey
    • 2015, Elizabeth Royte, Vultures Are Revolting. Here’s Why We Need to Save Them., National Geographic (December 2015)[1]:
      By one estimate, vultures either residing in or commuting into the Serengeti ecosystem during the annual migration—when 1.3 million white-bearded wildebeests shuffle between Kenya and Tanzania—historically consumed more meat than all mammalian carnivores in the Serengeti combined.


  • commute” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.}