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

The agreement would only go into effect once enough states, comprising a majority of electoral votes (270), join. Adam Eichen, The New Republic, "The Case Against the Electoral College Is Stronger Than Ever," 2 Aug. 2019 Although women of color comprise 39 percent of the U.S. population (and will be the majority by 2060), only 12 percent of all women in computing roles are filled by black or Latina women. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "In the know: Women in the news 7/28-8/2," 2 Aug. 2019 During the call, Koslow indicated the checks comprised the $5,000 payment the developer/agents had promised Cooper. Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, "Prosecutors drop 2 charges against former Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper," 1 Aug. 2019 The remaining eight were small multifamily buildings — comprising about 30 households altogether — scattered throughout rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Edgewood, Trinidad and Brookland. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "Tenants nearly lost rent-controlled apartments owned by a Catholic church. A developer found a solution.," 31 July 2019 Currently Manchester United's first-choice forward line would probably comprise of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial playing either side of Marcus Rashford. SI.com, "Ranking the Strike Forces of the Premier League Seasons Ahead of the 2019/20 Season," 30 July 2019 The Pewaukee proposal was centered on a 2,500-seat baseball stadium, with an additional smaller baseball field, two multifamily buildings comprising about 200 units and a public market. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After hitting an impasse in Pewaukee, a developer proposes 3,000 seat ballpark, wellness facility in Summit," 26 July 2019 In Delhi, where temperatures during the summer regularly crest 40.5 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), cooling currently comprises 40% to 60% of summer peak electricity generation. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "India is the epicenter of rethinking air conditioning," 26 July 2019 The universe is full of spiral galaxies, comprising about 77% of those observed. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Stunning spiral galaxy spotted by Hubble," 24 July 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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Last Updated

6 Aug 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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