1640s, "to be equivalent;" 1650s, "to counterbalance, make up for, give a substitute of equal value to," from Latin compensatus, past participle of compensare "to weigh one thing (against another)," thus, "to counterbalance," etymologically "to weigh together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + pensare, frequentative of pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin"). Meaning "to recompense, remunerate" is from 1814. The earlier verb in English was compense (late 14c.). Related: Compensated; compensating.
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