comprise

verb

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

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)
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?

The earliest meaning of comprise, "to be made up of" (as in "a team comprising nine players"), is sometimes regarded as the word's only correct use. However, this grammatical prescription denies a well-established sense of the word: "to compose or constitute" (as in "the nine players who comprise the team"). Until relatively recently, this 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. You might be most familiar with this disputed use in the passive construction, "to be comprised of" (as in "a team comprised of nine players"). Apologies to the haters: a single sense simply can’t comprise comprise.

Examples of comprise in a Sentence

Each army division comprised 4,500 troops. The play comprises three acts.
Recent Examples on the Web Altogether, the property has approximately 25,000 square feet of living space and comprises four bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 12 Feb. 2024 The current cast comprises David Ricardo-Pearce as Harry Potter, Polly Frame playing Ginny Potter and Ellis Rae as their son Albus Potter. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 12 Feb. 2024 The county request comprised Victory Homes, a 148-unit. Andres Viglucci, Miami Herald, 11 Feb. 2024 My ski wardrobe mostly comprised high-quality pants and jackets from reputable brands, chosen mostly by my dad. Michelle Parente, Travel + Leisure, 10 Feb. 2024 This Moment, released on June 30, comprises eight songs by the group. TIME, 5 Feb. 2024 China’s blue-chip CSI 300 index, comprising 300 major stocks listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen, also fell 4.6%, notching its worst week since October 2022. Anna Cooban, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh & Tyshawn Sorey: Compassion [ECM] The current iteration of the Vijay Iyer Trio, comprising the vaunted jazz pianist alongside bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, made a sterling debut in 2021 with Uneasy. Madison Bloom, Pitchfork, 2 Feb. 2024 Good Neighbours comprise Oli Fox and Scott Verrill. Xander Zellner, Billboard, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'comprise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

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Dictionary Entries Near comprise

Cite this Entry

“Comprise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprise. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

comprise

verb
com·​prise kəm-ˈprīz How to pronounce comprise (audio)
comprised; comprising
1
: include, contain
the test comprised two essay questions
2
: to be made up of
the play comprises three acts
3
: compose sense 1b, constitute
nine players comprise a baseball team

More from Merriam-Webster on comprise

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