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Definition of COMPRISE
: to include especially within a particular scope <civilization as Lenin used the term would then certainly have comprised the changes that are now associated in our minds with “developed” rather than “developing” states — Times Literary Supplement>
: to be made up of <a vast installation, comprising fifty buildings — Jane Jacobs>
:compose, constitute<a misconception as to what comprises a literary generation — William Styron><about 8 percent of our military forces are comprised of women — Jimmy Carter>
Usage Discussion of COMPRISE
Although it has been in use since the late 18th century, sense 3 is still attacked as wrong. Why it has been singled out is not clear, but until comparatively recent times it was found chiefly in scientific or technical writing rather than belles lettres. Our current evidence shows a slight shift in usage: sense 3 is somewhat more frequent in recent literary use than the earlier senses. You should be aware, however, that if you use sense 3 you may be subject to criticism for doing so, and you may want to choose a safer synonym such as compose or make up.
Examples of COMPRISE
Each army division comprised 4,500 troops.
The play comprises three acts.
Origin of COMPRISE
Middle English, from Anglo-French compris, past participle of comprendre, from Latin comprehendere