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 trigger-happy Tigers (29-9), on the other hand, are comprised of overlooked, underappreciated guards and big men like Spencer, who has developed over four long years into a valuable player. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Red-hot Auburn meets tradition-rich Kentucky for Final Four," 30 Mar. 2019 National Diaper Bank This organization is comprised of more than 200 local diaper banks, and is seeing a massive increase in need during the shutdown. Donate here. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "How to Help Federal Workers During the Government Shutdown," 25 Jan. 2019 Sweet Chef is comprised of Fresh Pressed Sheet Masks and Serum Shots in three nutritious varieties: Beet + Vitamin A, Kale + Vitamin B, and Ginger + Vitamin C. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Glow Recipe Announced the Upcoming Launch of a Target Line Called Sweet Chef," 27 Dec. 2018 The rest of the smartwatch field is largely comprised of variations of Wear OS devices that run Google’s actual smartwatch platform. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "The best smartwatch to buy for iPhone and Android," 21 Dec. 2018 As Allure exclusively reports, the brand's first-ever fragrance collection is comprised of four unique scents, each named after Atkin's favorite streets located in some of her favorite cities around the world. Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "Exclusive: Ouai Founder Jen Atkin Tells Allure All About the Brand's New Fragrance Line," 6 Nov. 2018 The flag, at the time, was mostly comprised of the Confederate battle flag, with a smaller section dedicated to the state’s emblem. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "The Stacey Abrams Georgia flag burning “controversy,” explained," 24 Oct. 2018 The shaft is comprised of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways. Fox News, "Archaeologists in Egypt discover ancient mummification workshop," 2 Oct. 2018 The third day of festivities comprised of the European wedding ceremony and a later reception dinner and dancing. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Influencer Diipa Khosla Wore 9 Different Looks for Her 4-Day Indian Wedding," 8 Feb. 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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Last Updated

16 Apr 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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