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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for comprise

Synonyms

consist (of), contain, muster

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

One large bowl appears entirely comprised of rubble, its walls a thick, white, rocky crust, pocked with voids and graced with passages of glassy jade and violet. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "Gravel, glass and glaze: The radical ceramics of Masaomi Yasunaga," 5 July 2019 Purples, a swing group comprising 18% of the population, hold positions across the political spectrum. Johanna Blakley, Quartzy, "Four TV shows that both liberals and conservatives love—and one they both hate," 5 July 2019 On June 28th two trading partners seized better access to each other’s markets as Mercosur, a customs union comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, agreed to a new trade deal with the European Union. The Economist, "A new trade deal has FOMO as its secret sauce," 5 July 2019 More than 75% of your meal should comprise vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and protein sources should include beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy. The Conversation, "Confused about what to eat? Science can help," 5 July 2019 In the six-team senior division comprising high school players, the FSU squad coached by Yvonne Johnson improved to 9-0 with a 25-13, 25-6 victory over UF. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "FSU remains undefeated in Cooper City Crush summer beach volleyball league," 3 July 2019 The Texas Municipal Power Agency, a group comprising the cities of Bryan, Garland, Denton and Greenville, owns the plant. Houston Chronicle, "Say goodbye to another Texas coal-fired power plant," 3 July 2019 The flat tax is on top of the current 17.5% lodging tax rate - comprised of a state lodging tax rate of 4%, Birmingham lodging tax rate at 6.5% and Jefferson county’s lodging tax rate at 7%, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue. Hailey Auglair | Hauglair@al.com, al.com, "Birmingham City Council approves $3 lodging tax," 2 July 2019 The state’s insurance department says Social Security numbers and other personal data of almost 100,000 people may have been comprised over nearly a decade by a breach at a large vision and dental insurer. USA TODAY, "Moon rocks, Misty of Chincoteague, Haiku Stairs: News from around our 50 states," 28 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about comprise

Listen to Our Podcast about comprise

Statistics for comprise

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for comprise

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on comprise

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

providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!