comprise

verb

com·​prise kəm-ˈprīz How to pronounce comprise (audio)
comprised; comprising

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)
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?

The earliest meaning of comprise, "to be made up of" (as in "a team comprising nine players"), is sometimes regarded as the word's only correct use. However, this grammatical prescription denies a well-established sense of the word: "to compose or constitute" (as in "the nine players who comprise the team"). Until relatively recently, this 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. You might be most familiar with this disputed use in the passive construction, "to be comprised of" (as in "a team comprised of nine players"). Apologies to the haters: a single sense simply can’t comprise comprise.

Examples of comprise in a Sentence

Each army division comprised 4,500 troops. The play comprises three acts.
Recent Examples on the Web The rest of the Labour manifesto comprised a mix of modest centrism with soft socialism. Luke McGee, CNN, 5 July 2024 As part of a drive to attract new investment to this economically backward part of the country, a complex comprising a golf course, spa and casino is in the early stages of construction, necessitating the bulldozing of the town’s cemetery. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 4 July 2024 The group, comprising Teamsters Local 399, IBEW Local 40, LiUNA! Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 July 2024 That’s impractical, and expensive, for a nation comprising hundreds of islands scattered over more than 500,000 sq. mi. By Aryn Baker/lautoka, Fiji , TIME, 3 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for comprise 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'comprise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French compris, past participle of comprendre, from Latin comprehendere — see comprehend

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of comprise was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near comprise

Cite this Entry

“Comprise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprise. Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

comprise

verb
com·​prise kəm-ˈprīz How to pronounce comprise (audio)
comprised; comprising
1
: include, contain
the test comprised two essay questions
2
: to be made up of
the play comprises three acts
3
: compose sense 1b, constitute
nine players comprise a baseball team

More from Merriam-Webster on comprise

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