1. To consist of; be composed of: The French got ... French Equatorial Africa, comprising several territories(Alex Shoumatoff).
2. To include; contain: The word politics ... comprises, in itself, a difficult study of no inconsiderable magnitude(Charles Dickens). See Synonyms at include.
3. Usage Problem To compose; constitute: Put together the slaughterhouses, the steel mills, the freight yards ... that comprised the city(Saul Bellow).
[Middle English comprisen, from Old French compris, past participle of comprendre, to include, from Latin comprehendere, comprndere; see comprehend.]
Usage Note: The traditional rule states that the whole comprises the parts and the parts compose the whole. In strict usage: The Union comprises 50 states. Fifty states compose (or constitute or make up) the Union. Even though careful writers often maintain this distinction, comprise is increasingly used in place of compose, especially in the passive: The Union is comprised of 50 states. Our surveys show that opposition to this usage is abating. In the 1960s, 53 percent of the Usage Panel found this usage unacceptable; in 1996, only 35 percent objected. See Usage Note at include.
comprise /kmpraz/ v. [T] -prised, -prising, -prises to include, contain: Our companys product line comprises 2,500 different items.