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

compose, constitute, form, make up

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 report, based on figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, reveals that 3,625 senior citizens made aliyah in 2017, comprising 14 percent of the total new immigrants for that year. Nadav Shaham, Jewish Journal, "Report: Greater numbers of senior citizens are making aliyah," 12 July 2018 While the ranks of private-sector union workers have steadily declined and make up just 6.5 percent of the labor force, public unions have grown and comprise 34.4 percent of all government employees. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court rules against unions: How labor decision will affect union pay, benefits," 27 June 2018 Race continued to be the most common category, comprising 57 percent of all hate crimes. Brian Levin, James J. Nolan, CBS News, "New data shows US hate crimes continued to rise in 2017," 26 June 2018 The multiracial population only slightly exceeds the state's rapidly growing Asian population, estimated to comprise 215,000 people in 2017, which grew at 44 percent from 2010 to 2017 and 4.9 percent from 2016 to 2017. Caroline Metzler And Gavin Off, charlotteobserver, "Hispanic population continues to rise in NC as white population trails," 25 June 2018 Officials said all of the dead were Chinese comprising 13 children, 18 women and 10 men. Washington Post, "Thai official: 5 reported missing from sunken boat are alive," 9 July 2018 The Southern Ocean accounts for half the ocean’s uptake of carbon from the atmosphere and the majority of the heat uptake, despite comprising only 30 percent of the world’s ocean area. Discover Magazine, "The Salt Life," 27 June 2018 Emigres from the San Francisco Bay Area will comprise one-third of house hunters in the capital region this summer, real estate analysts predict. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "Bay Area residents are inundating Sacramento new home websites. Is a coastal wave coming?," 18 June 2018 Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, noted that the commission also comprises appointees from the State Legislature. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "Ex-Cuomo Aide Is Cleared by State Panel of Sexual Harassment and Assault," 11 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

Phrases Related to comprise

comprised of

Statistics for comprise

Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

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

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

lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

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

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!