comprise

verb
com·​prise | \ kəm-ˈprīz How to pronounce comprise (audio) \
comprised; comprising

Definition of comprise

transitive verb

1 : to be made up of The factory was to be a vast installation, comprising fifty buildings.— Jane Jacobs The play comprises three acts.
2 : 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
3 : 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.The Times Literary Supplement (London)

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Synonyms for comprise

Synonyms

consist (of), contain, muster

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Comprise vs. Compose: Usage Guide

Although it has been in use since the late 18th century, sense 2 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 2 is somewhat more frequent in recent literary use than the earlier senses. You should be aware, however, that if you use sense 2 you may be subject to criticism for doing so, and you may want to choose a safer synonym such as compose or make up.

Did You Know?

Comprise has undergone a substantial shift in usage since first appearing in English in the 15th century. For many years usage commentators insisted that the usage of comprise meaning "to be made up of" (as shown in our first example) was correct and comprise meaning "to make up," as in our second example and in phrases like "the players who comprise the team," was not. (This disputed use is often used in passive constructions such as, "The album is comprised of ten classic songs.") Until relatively recently, this less-favored sense appeared mostly in scientific writing, but current evidence shows that it is now somewhat more common in general use than the word's other meanings.

Examples of comprise in a Sentence

Each army division comprised 4,500 troops. The play comprises three acts.

Recent Examples on the Web

The group comprised some of the top players from their respective high schools in South Florida. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "Pines Thunder looking to make noise in national qualifier tournaments," 20 June 2019 In the mid-1990s, Hong Kong’s economy comprised almost a third of China’s GDP. Charlie Campbell, Time, "Hong Kong’s Uprising Rattles the Mainland," 20 June 2019 The park comprises 30 square miles of dunes and includes 750-foot-elevation-gains. Helen H. Richardson, The Know, "PHOTOS: Medano Creek spring surge at Great Sand Dunes," 20 June 2019 The jury comprised four whites, seven blacks and one Hispanic. Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, "White bicyclist convicted of assaulting black motorist, but jury deadlocks over whether attack was racially motivated," 19 June 2019 The dissenting quartet comprised three conservatives and Justice Stephen Breyer, who usually votes with the liberals. S.m. | New York, The Economist, "The Supreme Court sinks a Republican gerrymander in Virginia," 18 June 2019 The July closures comprise 19 Fifth Third branches and 25 former MB branches. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fifth Third to close 44 Chicago-area branches in July after completing MB bank merger," 17 June 2019 The treatment area comprises approximately .57 acres surrounding the public landing. Mary Divine, Twin Cities, "Zebra mussel discovery leads to temporary closure of Scandia’s Bone Lake boat launch," 14 June 2019 Approximately 120,000 words comprise the SpellPundit catalog and are categorized into sets based on factors such as difficulty. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Spring teens’ website takes off in competitive spelling community," 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comprise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of comprise

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for comprise

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

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Statistics for comprise

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for comprise

The first known use of comprise was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for comprise

comprise

verb

English Language Learners Definition of comprise

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

comprise

verb
com·​prise | \ kəm-ˈprīz How to pronounce comprise (audio) \
comprised; comprising

Kids Definition of comprise

1 : to be made up of : consist of The play comprises three acts.
2 : form entry 2 sense 3 Nine players comprise a baseball team.

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More from Merriam-Webster on comprise

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with comprise

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comprise

Spanish Central: Translation of comprise

Nglish: Translation of comprise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of comprise for Arabic Speakers

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