Definition of compress in English:



  • 1 Flatten by pressure; squeeze or press.

    ‘the skirt can be folded and compressed into a relatively small bag’
    ‘compressed gas’
    • ‘For Asia, the demographic changes that occurred gradually over 100 years in the West have been compressed into a few decades.’
    • ‘A gas can also be easily compressed when pressure is exerted on it.’
    • ‘This increased pressure compresses the arteries and veins, decreasing blood flow to the muscles.’
    • ‘The world tour is compressed into stop-offs in Senegal, Morocco, Estonia and Latvia, where the boys end up not so much handing the money out as realising how hard it is to part with it.’
    • ‘What happened in a way was that half a century of change was compressed into two decades.’
    • ‘Some pieces are extraordinarily beautiful - not pretty like a Chopin nocturne, but luminous and transparent, as though a whole world of meaning is compressed into every note.’
    • ‘The flow lines are compressed, and the pressure beneath the foil is increased.’
    • ‘Measurements may be inaccurate because of pseudohypertension, in which the blood pressure cuff fails to compress a calcified artery.’
    • ‘This summer it was compressed into cakes which were also stored in the open.’
    • ‘It made for an entertaining five weeks - and I've clearly learned a lot - but could easily have been compressed into a day school.’
    • ‘These structures irritate the tendon by putting pressure on it and compressing it.’
    • ‘A gas applies much greater pressure when it is compressed into a relatively small space because there are many more particles moving around in a given area.’
    • ‘Lifting the bolt handle to extract the fired case and compress the mainspring is very difficult.’
    • ‘Rossini's four-act opera has been compressed into 90 minutes and features a cast of seven local actors with musical backgrounds.’
    • ‘Carpal tunnel syndrome may result from the tunnel walls being compressed, putting pressure on the nerve.’
    • ‘These volumes are compressed into a compact, relief-like mass, where space is of little consequence.’
    • ‘The only difference is that, as a young earth creationist, Ham has to believe that all of that evolution was compressed into only a few thousand years at very most.’
    • ‘Dobson units are a measure of how thick the ozone would be if it were compressed with a pressure of one atmosphere above it.’
    • ‘Now, margins have been compressed by pricing pressures, and industry analysts and executives don't see prices firming anytime soon.’
    • ‘A construction programme that should have taken 35-40 weeks has had to be compressed into 22 weeks.’
    1. 1.1[no object]Be squeezed or pressed together or into a smaller space.
      ‘her face compressed into a frown’
      • ‘The pressure associated with diving deep can cause air spaces like lungs to compress and maybe even collapse.’
      • ‘The fire began to come together molding and compressing into the shape of a human.’
      • ‘As air spaces compress with depth the volume of the dolphin decreases without an accompanying reduction in mass, and the animal becomes less buoyant.’
      • ‘The air compressed rapidly as he passed through the door.’
      • ‘The water orb envelops the ice as it compresses tightly and disappears.’
    2. 1.2Biology Having a narrow shape as if flattened, especially sideways.
      ‘most sea snakes have a compressed tail’
      • ‘Like all other species of the genus Micropterus, the smallmouth bass has a moderately compressed, elongate body.’
      • ‘Compared to other fishes, Astronotus ocellatus has a slender, laterally compressed body, and a blunt head with a large mouth and protruding jaw.’
      • ‘We have used a molding technique to obtain images of compressed collagen fibrils from rat tail tendon.’
      • ‘Pineconefish have round, compressed bodies that are pale to dark yellow in color.’
      • ‘Garibaldi have a deep, oval-shaped, and laterally compressed body covered with large scales.’
    3. 1.3Squeeze or press (two things) together.
      ‘Viola compressed her lips together grimly’
      • ‘I compressed my shoulders into myself as I crossed my arms together in my pockets, trying to shield myself from the icy coldness.’
      • ‘Infants, like adults, furrow their brows when angry, says Izard, but unlike adults they don't tend to compress their lips.’
      • ‘Ty's lips were compressed, his brows narrowed, his head so high she wondered that his neck didn't hurt.’
      • ‘Occasionally, she would compress her lips in a determined line.’
      • ‘Compressing her lips and her resolve, she swings the marker at the end of her arm, as hard as she can, willing centrifugal force to move any remaining fluid down to the application end.’
      • ‘This is because the approaching movement compresses the X's together, making them arrive more frequently and produce a higher pitch, while the departing movement stretches out the X's and produces a lower pitch.’
      • ‘She shivered slightly and compressed her lips in a straight line and she appeared to be listening intensely.’
      • ‘His lips were compressed tightly together as the ship made a creaking turn.’
      • ‘She compressed her lips, and spoke with conviction.’
      • ‘Adam compressed his lips and set his jaw stubbornly.’
      purse, press together, squeeze together, pinch, crimp
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    4. 1.4Express in a shorter form; abridge.
      ‘in this chapter we compress into summary form the main findings’
      • ‘They can be compressed into nine critical questions.’
      abridge, shorten, cut, condense, abbreviate, contract, telescope
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    5. 1.5Reduce the dynamic range of (a sound signal).
      • ‘The Hunter's Ear is designed to compress sounds above 85 decibels into a safe hearing range.’
      • ‘This compression of an already compressed voice signal degrades voice clarity.’
      • ‘As the siren moves toward you, it is catching up to and compressing the sound waves it produces, thus the higher pitch.’
      • ‘Hearing such compressed sounds over and over during a long game session leads to ear fatigue and a diminished playing experience.’
      • ‘In this instance it is the ability to compress the signal.’
      • ‘The latest MP3 technology compresses all superfluous parts of a sound signal to reduce the amount of memory needed to store digital information.’
      • ‘The dynamic range can be compressed correspondingly (raising the pianissimo level and reducing the fortissimo).’
      • ‘Atrac works by splitting the sound signal into separate frequency bands and compressing them separately.’
      • ‘Loud sounds are compressed to within 70 decibels.’
    6. 1.6Computing Alter the form of (data) to reduce the amount of storage necessary.
      • ‘When data is compressed automatically, all filing characteristics remain exactly the same.’
      • ‘Music compressed using MP3 or equivalent formats requires 1Mb per minute.’
      • ‘Often, large files are compressed to reduce downloading time.’
      • ‘Without a second thought, you'd probably compress the file and send it off.’
      • ‘The files are automatically compressed so they're small enough to send via email.’


  • A pad of lint or other absorbent material pressed on to part of the body to relieve inflammation or stop bleeding.

    ‘a cold compress’
    • ‘I am plagued with boils and have tried hot compresses to no avail.’
    • ‘If stung by a fire ant, the first recommended step is to apply a cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain.’
    • ‘Pamela was there exchanging cool compresses on his forehead.’
    • ‘He went to place the compress on her head again and she evaded him.’
    • ‘Take them out of the microwave and apply these steamy compresses to your aching body.’
    • ‘Symptoms increased with warmth and were relieved partially with cold compresses.’
    • ‘Gently massage the affected joints in the morning after applying warm compresses to the area.’
    • ‘Before I knew it, I had worked myself up into a frothing, barking frenzy and had to lay down and put a cold compress on my head.’
    • ‘She continued to place the cool compress on his forehead and dab at his reddened cheeks.’
    • ‘Many cold compresses, an elevated leg and all manner of other cures have been to no avail.’
    • ‘Relieve pain with cool, wet compresses until the corpsman arrives.’
    • ‘You can use hot compresses during your bath session.’
    • ‘To relieve a tension headache, apply a cold compress to the back of your neck.’
    • ‘So now I've got a cold compress on it, fresh from the freezer.’
    • ‘I took some paracetamol, and did cold compresses, and was just generally in a very bad mood.’
    • ‘A ginger compress is safe for most people and in many situations.’
    • ‘Follow with a warm sea salt compress to remove crusting and clean out any infection.’
    • ‘Talk about the magical moments and apply a cold compress to the burns.’
    • ‘However, there are certain situations in which the ginger compress should not be used.’
    • ‘She pressed the cold compress to the spot where she hit her head.’
    bandage, covering, plaster, gauze, lint, compress, ligature, swathe, poultice, salve
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Late Middle English: from Old French compresser or late Latin compressare, frequentative of Latin comprimere, from com- together + premere to press; or directly from compress- pressed together, from the verb comprimere.