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)

Synonyms for comprise


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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.

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Comprise has undergone a substantial shift in usage since first appearing in English in the 15th century. For many years, grammarians insisted that the usage of comprise meaning "to be made up of," as in phrases like "a team comprising nine players," was correct, and that comprise meaning "to make up," as in phrases like "the nine players who comprise the team," was not. This disputed use is most common in the passive construction "to be comprised of," as in "a team comprised of nine players." 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 There are four expressions that comprise this series: 11-year-old single malt from Caol Ila finished in a sherry octave cask, 13-year-old from Ardmore, 14-year-old from Highland Park and 10-year-old from Bunnahabhain. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 27 July 2022 That job falls on a weather barrier, such as a Tyvec or Typar home wrap, or a peel-and-stick membrane such as Vycor or BlueSkin, that’s applied over the sheathing (the boards or plywood that comprise your exterior walls). Jon Gorey,, 17 July 2022 Typical roles that comprise an M&A team include an M&A analyst and a project manager. Kison Patel, Forbes, 7 July 2022 The results are based on the trading platform’s customer notional net percentage buy/sell behavior for stocks that comprise the S&P 500 sectors. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 5 July 2022 The document lays out 21 items that comprise the school’s safety plan, one of which was that the district employes four officers – a chief, a detective and two officers. Amir Vera, CNN, 21 June 2022 Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, one of two regions that comprise Donbas, on Saturday said Ukrainian forces had repeatedly beat back Russian attempts to extend control. Thomas Grove, WSJ, 18 June 2022 That Care Summit County, Jewish Family Service, Summit County Clubhouse, Peace House and others that comprise the Park City Community Foundation’s Mental Wellness Alliance. The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 June 2022 Firearms homicide rates in the U.S. are 22 times greater than in the 27 countries that comprise the European Union, for example. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 11 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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comprised of

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Comprise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for comprise


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on comprise

Nglish: Translation of comprise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of comprise for Arabic Speakers


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