commute (v.)

mid-15c., "to change (something into something else), transform," from Latin commutare "to often change, to change altogether," from com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move").

Sense of "make less severe" is from 1630s; sense of "exchange, put in place of another" is from 1630s. Meaning "substitute one sort of burden for another" is from 1640s.

Meaning "go back and forth to work" is attested by 1889, from commutation ticket "a season pass" on a railroad, streetcar line, etc. (1848), from commute in its sense of "to change one kind of payment into another" (1795), especially "to combine a number of payments into a single one, pay a single sum instead of a number of successive payments" (1845). Related: Commuted; commuting; commutable.

The noun meaning "a journey made in commuting" is attested by 1960. Also compare commuter.

updated on June 27, 2021

Definitions of commute from WordNet
commute (v.)
exchange positions without a change in value;
These operators commute with each other
Synonyms: transpose
commute (v.)
travel back and forth regularly, as between one's place of work and home;
commute (v.)
change the order or arrangement of;
Synonyms: permute / transpose
commute (v.)
exchange a penalty for a less severe one;
Synonyms: convert / exchange
commute (v.)
exchange or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category;
Synonyms: change / exchange / convert
commute (n.)
a regular journey of some distance to and from your place of work;
there is standing room only on the high-speed commute
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.