compass

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box the compass

1. To count off all 32 points of a compass in a clockwise order. Sailor! Box the compass for me, posthaste!
2. To completely reverse one's position or stance on something, such an issue, belief, argument, etc. After seeing so much evidence regarding climate change, I was forced to box the compass.
See also: box, compass

moral compass

That which serves or guides a person's knowledge, sense, or intuition of correct virtues, morals, or ethics. Our country's moral compass has surely gone awry in recent times, as our priorities seem now to favor the wealthy accumulating more wealth at the expense of any other concern.
See also: compass, moral

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.
See also: box, compass

box the compass

1. To name the 32 points of the compass in proper order.
2. To make a complete revolution or reversal.
See also: box, compass
References in classic literature ?
There also stood a large arm-chair and a large table, compasses, alembics, skeletons of animals suspended from the ceiling, a globe rolling on the floor, hippocephali mingled promiscuously with drinking cups, in which quivered leaves of gold, skulls placed upon vellum checkered with figures and characters, huge manuscripts piled up wide open, without mercy on the cracking corners of the parchment; in short, all the rubbish of science, and everywhere on this confusion dust and spiders' webs; but there was no circle of luminous letters, no doctor in an ecstasy contemplating the flaming vision, as the eagle gazes upon the sun.
No standard compasses, and you know what a small-boat horizon is, with a big sea, for a sextant.
Barbicane had also brought several compasses, which he found intact.
Professional athletes never move without lanterns and compasses," said Helen.
Jukes, straddling his long legs like a pair of compasses, put on an air of superiority.
Why do not the surveyors of the States set their compasses and run their lines over our heads as well as beneath our feet?
The observation every day at noon, and the subsequent working of the vessel's course, was, as may be supposed, a feature in our lives of paramount importance; nor were there wanting (as there never are) sagacious doubters of the captain's calculations, who, so soon as his back was turned, would, in the absence of compasses, measure the chart with bits of string, and ends of pocket- handkerchiefs, and points of snuffers, and clearly prove him to be wrong by an odd thousand miles or so.