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)

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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

Analysis of a new discovery known as Kepler-107c offers something never seen before: a planet comprised mostly of iron, what scientists estimate could be as much as 70 percent. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Mysterious Iron Exoplanet Could Reveal the Secrets of Our Own Solar System," 5 Feb. 2019 Israel’s census bureau predicts ultra-Orthodox will comprise about one-third of Israel’s population by 2065, up from about 12% now. Dov Lieber, WSJ, "Conflict That Helped Spur Israeli Election Resounds Among Ultra-Orthodox Jews," 2 Jan. 2019 Romero is one of 892 people canonized by Francis during his papacy (granted, most of these comprised more than 800 martyrs from the 15th century who were killed by invading Ottomans). Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Oscar Romero, a martyr for social justice and the newest Catholic saint, explained," 15 Oct. 2018 Thousands of destroyers, battleships, attack vessels, and transport ships comprised the armada; the sky was a violent mirror, with airborne divisions raining down thousands of bombs simultaneously. Paula Mclain, Town & Country, "The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn, the Woman Ernest Hemingway Tried to Erase," 12 July 2018 The unit, comprising the Taobao and Tmall e-commerce platforms, had a growth rate above 50% as recently as the quarter... Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Don’t Shop for Alibaba as China Slows," 30 Jan. 2019 By the end of the 1950s, Mailsters comprised one third of the USPS fleet; the number in use peaked at 17,700, in 1966. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "12 Geeky Ways to Deliver Mail: U.S. Postal Service Technology Through the Ages," 18 Jan. 2019 The module sections may comprise the entire building or only part of it—these homes can be quite large, completely customizable, and architecturally diverse. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "The Impressive Evolution Of Prefabricated Houses," 24 Dec. 2018 The patent application goes on to say that the gasket could comprise of a layer of silicone that would act as a membrane. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple’s redesigned MacBook Pro keyboard uses new method for repelling dust, reports iFixit," 14 July 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.

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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

19 Feb 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 \
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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