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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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 Recording sessions and fundraisers comprise Muscle Shoals Sounds’ third-largest revenue stream. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "How Muscle Shoals music Meccas are surviving and reopening," 23 June 2020 At some tech companies, contract workers comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce. Anna Furman, Wired, "Airbnb Quietly Fired Hundreds of Contract Workers. I'm One of Them," 23 June 2020 Masks comprise three layers: a 100-percent cotton outer layer with an antimicrobial finish, a 100-percent polyester inner layer and a pocket for an insertable filter. Hanna Horvath, NBC News, "Best antimicrobial face masks, according to medical experts," 23 June 2020 Today, laptops and desktops comprise just under 10% of Apple sales. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Apple’s chip transition will be a non-event for consumers," 22 June 2020 But analysts have pointed out that interest-free loans comprise just a fraction of the debt that African countries owe China. Laura He, CNN, "China is promising to write off some loans to Africa. It may just be a drop in the ocean," 19 June 2020 Physical education programs — including adaptive P.E. for elementary students — were initially slated to comprise the remaining $1.3 million in reductions. oregonlive, "Portland Public Schools will leave vice principal positions empty, stall other hiring to offset budget losses," 17 June 2020 These figures comprise all donations associated with an employer. Adrienne Dunn, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Restaurant chains don't directly donate to Trump's reelection campaign," 16 June 2020 Chicken tikka masala, lamb curry, vegetable korma, palak paneer and chana masala comprise the main course dishes, which come with basmati rice and garlic naan. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Arizona Restaurant Week Spring 2020: Here are 15 great menus to try for dine-in or takeout," 14 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for comprise

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comprise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprise. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for comprise

comprise

verb
How to pronounce comprise (audio)

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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Comments on comprise

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