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Etymology 1Edit

Possibly from Malay kampong, kampung (group of buildings, village), via Dutch or Portuguese [1].



compound (plural compounds)

  1. an enclosure within which workers, prisoners, or soldiers are confined
  2. a group of buildings situated close together, e.g. for a school or block of offices
    • Masayuki, Yuda (2019-03-07), “Thai court: pro-Thaksin party must disband for nominating princess”, in Nikkei Asian Review[1], Nikkei Inc, retrieved 2019-03-07
      Some 20 supporters managed to get inside the court compounds. About half an hour after the verdict was delivered, they gathered near the Constitutional Court entrance and shouted: "On March 24, use your pen to oust the dictator."

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English compounen, from Middle French componre, compondre (to put together), from Latin componō, from Latin com- (together) + ponō (to put).


  • adj. and noun (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkɒmpaʊnd/
  • adj. and noun (US) enPR: kŏm'pound, IPA(key): /ˈkɑmpaʊnd/
  • verb (US, UK) enPR: kəmpound', IPA(key): /kəmˈpaʊnd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊnd


compound (not comparable)

  1. composed of elements; not simple
    a compound word
    • I. Watts
      Compound substances are made up of two or more simple substances.
  2. (mathematics) dealing with numbers of various denominations of quantity, or with processes more complex than the simple process
    compound addition; compound proportion
  3. (music) An octave higher than originally (i.e. a compound major second is equivalent to a major ninth).
  • (composed of elements): simple
Derived termsEdit


compound (plural compounds)

  1. Anything made by combining several things.
  2. (chemistry, dated) A substance made from any combination elements.
  3. (chemistry) A substance formed by chemical union of two or more ingredients in definite proportions by weight.
  4. (linguistics) A lexeme that consists of more than one stem; compound word; for example laptop, formed from lap and top.
  5. (rail transport) a compound locomotive, a steam locomotive with both high-pressure and low-pressure cylinders.


compound (third-person singular simple present compounds, present participle compounding, simple past and past participle compounded)

  1. (transitive) To form (a resulting mixture) by combining different elements, ingredients, or parts.
    to compound a medicine
    • Sir Walter Scott
      incapacitating him from successfully compounding a tale of this sort
  2. (transitive) To assemble (ingredients) into a whole; to combine, mix, or unite.
    • Addison
      We have the power of altering and compounding those images into all the varieties of picture.
  3. (transitive) To modify or change by combination with some other thing or part; to mingle with something else.
    • Shakespeare
      Only compound me with forgotten dust.
  4. (transitive, law) To settle by agreeing on less than the claim, or on different terms than those stipulated.
    to compound a debt
  5. (transitive) To settle amicably; to adjust by agreement; to compromise.
    • Shakespeare
      I pray, my lords, let me compound this strife.
  6. (intransitive) To come to terms of agreement; to agree; to settle by a compromise; usually followed by with before the person participating, and for before the thing compounded or the consideration.
    • Shakespeare
      Here's a fellow will help you to-morrow; [] compound with him by the year.
    • Clarendon
      They were at last glad to compound for his bare commitment to the Tower.
    • R. Carew
      Cornwall compounded to furnish ten oxen after Michaelmas for thirty pounds.
    • Hudibras
      Compound for sins they are inclined to / By damning those they have no mind to.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To compose; to constitute.
    • Shakespeare
      his pomp and all what state compounds
  8. (intransitive, finance) To increase in value with interest, where the interest is earned on both the principal sum and prior earned interest.
  9. (transitive) To worsen a situation
    • New Family Structure Study
      This problem is compounded when these studies compare data from the small convenience samples of gay parenting with data on heterosexual parenting
Usage notesEdit

The usage in sense 9 above is widespread but not wholly accepted. The original meaning of the word (see senses 4, 5 and 6 above) implies resolution of a problem, not worsening. It has been suggested (Fraser 1973) that the reverse usage arose by confusion with phrases such as compound interest.

Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ compound” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.

External linksEdit