comprise

verb
com·​prise | \ kəm-ˈprīz \
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

The initiative in question comprises a total redesign for the packaging of the brand's Bio:Renew line of botanical shampoos and conditioners. Andrea Park, Allure, "Herbal Essences Launches Packaging for Blind and Vision-Impaired Customers," 11 Oct. 2018 Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "J.K. Rowling responds to 'Fantastic Beasts' sequel casting controversy," 28 Sep. 2018 Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "J.K. Rowling Chimed in on "Fantastic Beasts" Casting Criticism Over Claudia Kim as Nagini," 27 Sep. 2018 One comprises the grim specifics of getting high and getting clean, and the tricks of both. John Williams, New York Times, "Can Handiwork Save Your Soul? A Quiet Novel Suggests It Can," 10 July 2018 What comprises a de facto life sentence: Is 50 years too long? Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences than those in the rest of Pennsylvania?," 10 July 2018 Firstly, the realm of feelings comprises the sunny uplands of positive emotions, together with a shaded region of more ambivalent ones. Tim Lomas, BostonGlobe.com, "1,000 words for happiness," 1 July 2018 The port comprises 1,900 acres still being redeveloped from its days as Kelly Air Force Base. Lynn Brezosky, San Antonio Express-News, "Perschbach named Port San Antonio CEO," 28 June 2018 The campus comprises Ose Adams Medical Pavilion (formerly Sutter General Hospital), the Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center, Buhler Specialty Pavilion, Capitol Pavilion and the Fort Sutter Medical Building. Cathie Anderson, sacbee, "Grief, thanksgiving, prayer, mindfulness: This Sutter space is designed for it all," 27 June 2018

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

8 Jan 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 \
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

involving abstract or general statements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!