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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
On every backcountry hunt, I pack two small, inexpensive compasses. They tell me about where magnetic north is.
It's also a good idea to carry your compasses in a soft case away from metal.
Other primitive compasses comprised an iron needle suspended from a thread or stuck through a floating lump of wax or cork.
Compasses are crossing over to the dark side, at least for those bowhunters who grouse at the never-ending high-tech progress in what so recently was considered to be a "primitive" sport.
Brunton has become the leader in compasses for hiking, hunting, orienteering and extreme sports because they're not only good design innovators, they know what the public is clamoring for.
Perhaps this is a good time to define the two basic types of compasses. These are basic directional compasses and declination adjustable map compasses.
Some compasses have an open "sight" in their covers; others have a mirror that will reflect information as you sight
Higher-end Brunton compasses worthy of your consideration include the 27LU Trooper ($19.99), a prismatic compass with cover, minor and ruler; the 15TDCL Elite ($49.99), another prismatic with all the bells and whistles, including a rotating bezel, minor, sighting line and forestry scale on its crystal-clear base, the 80100, and perhaps the finest compass I've ever seen, the 8099 Eclipse ($79.99).
If you don't mind lugging around a couple of extra ounces, check out the WWII British Prismatic Marching Compasses ($229).
These are original issue compasses that are still in use today.
Both of these latter two compasses have been fully-reconditioned to work like new.