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

China’s south coastal region comprises Shanghai and five provinces from Jiangsu to Hainan (see map). The Economist, "Once again, China’s richest region is pulling ahead of the others," 8 June 2019 Delicate florals, sleek silhouettes, and timeless hues comprise our round-up of options that are sure to stand the test of time. Dominique Hobdy, Essence, "Best Bridesmaid Dresses To Shop This Wedding Season," 6 June 2019 Her wider audience comprises people who simply want to know what’s going on out there, starting at their doorstep. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Virginia McAlester Is the Most Popular Architecture Writer in America," 6 June 2019 Set on more than half an acre, the compound comprises three contemporary cottages designed by local architect Chris Sorenson. Neal J. Leitereg, latimes.com, "Broad Beach compound with Hollywood ties aims for $14 million," 5 June 2019 Federer, Nadal, Djokovic -- who faces Alexander Zverev on Wednesday -- and Andy Murray comprise the big four in men's tennis. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Federer, Nadal to meet at French Open for first time since 2011," 4 June 2019 When The Atlantic was founded in 1857, the U.S. comprised 31 states and eight territories. Annika Neklason, The Atlantic, "How The Atlantic Covered the Fight for Women’s Suffrage," 4 June 2019 That program comprises 88 nursing homes, including one in Alabama, that receive a higher level of observation by CMS and could lead to the stripping of their Medicare and Medicaid funding if violations are not corrected. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al.com, "These 4 Alabama nursing homes have a ‘persistent record of poor care’," 4 June 2019 On the east end of the island, the Cathedral site comprises a series of coral formations and canyons populated by angelfish, parrotfish, and other critters. Katherine Cusumano, Condé Nast Traveler, "Bermuda Snorkeling Guide: 9 Best Dive Sites On The Island," 31 May 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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Statistics for comprise

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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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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