The noun compress refers to a pad that’s held to your body to reduce pain or symptoms of illness. A washcloth dipped in cold water and pressed onto your forehead to help you cool down is a type of compress.

As a verb, compress means to squeeze together with a fair amount of pressure. When you compress a sponge to get all the water out, you press it between your palms or squish it between your fingers. Compress can also mean to make something more compact — as with the sponge, when you compress an object it gets smaller. You could even compress a speech by cutting it down into a shorter but equally effective version.

Definitions of compress
  1. verb

    squeeze or press together

    compressed her lips”
    compact, constrict, contract, press, squeeze
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    choke, strangle

    constrict (someone’s) throat and keep from breathing

    contract one’s lips

    constrict or bind or draw together

    constrict a hollow organ or vessel so as to stop the flow of blood or air

    contract involuntarily, as in a spasm

    cause to contract
    bear down, overbear

    contract the abdominal muscles during childbirth to ease delivery
    choke, fret, gag

    be too tight; rub or press
    choke, scrag

    wring the neck of
    type of:


    become tight or tighter

  2. verb

    make more compact by or as if by pressing

    compress the data”
    compact, pack together
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    decompress, uncompress

    restore to its uncompressed form

    pack, tamp, tamp down

    press down tightly
    type of:

    force, squeeze, wedge

    squeeze like a wedge into a tight space

  3. noun

    a cloth pad or dressing (with or without medication) applied firmly to some part of the body (to relieve discomfort or reduce fever)

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    type of:

    dressing, medical dressing

    a cloth covering for a wound or sore

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