Date: Mon, 1 Sep 1997 09:24:12 -0400

From: Alan Baragona baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]VAX.VMI.EDU

Subject: "Comprise"

A couple of years ago, I decided the distinction between "comprise" and

"compose" was, for all practical purposes, dead when I found "comprise"

misused in a Morgan Library Exhibit, on National Public Radio, and in an

academic journal all in one week. The fact that both words are used in the

same semantic situations (though with opposite meanings), as well as the

similarity in spelling, makes it virtually inevitable that they should fall


But yesterday before the Orioles game, I heard a broadcaster say that the

starting pitchers had "comprised" a set of impressive statistics. Of

course, he should have said "compiled," but I was wondering if this was

simply a misusage by a jock announcer or part of a trend in the semantic

shift of the word. Has anyone else run across a confusion between

"comprise" and "compile" instead of the more usual "compose"?

Alan Baragona


You know, years ago, my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this

world, Elwood, you must be . . ."--she always called me 'Elwood'--"In this

world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant." Well, for

years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me.

Elwood P. Dowd