Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

comprise

play
verb com·prise \kəm-ˈprīz\

Simple Definition of comprise

  • : to be made up of (something) : to include or consist of (something)

  • : to make up or form (something)

Full Definition of comprise

com·prisedcom·pris·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  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>

  3. 2 :  to be made up of <a vast installation, comprising fifty buildings — Jane Jacobs>

  4. 3 :  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

  1. Each army division comprised 4,500 troops.

  2. The play comprises three acts.



Origin of comprise

Middle English, from Anglo-French compris, past participle of comprendre, from Latin comprehendere


First Known Use: 15th century




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up comprise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez duvet spindrift kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ