[ kuh m-pair ]
/ kəmˈpɛər /

verb (used with object), com·pared, com·par·ing.

verb (used without object), com·pared, com·par·ing.


comparison: Her beauty is beyond compare.


    compare notes. note(def 32).

Origin of compare

1375–1425; late Middle English comparen < Latin comparāre to place together, match, verbal derivative of compar alike, matching (see com-, par1); replacing Middle English comperen < Old French comperer < Latin

Related forms

Can be confused

compare contrast (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

The traditional rule about which preposition to use after compare states that compare should be followed by to when it points out likenesses or similarities between two apparently dissimilar persons or things: She compared his handwriting to knotted string. Compare should be followed by with, the rule says, when it points out similarities or differences between two entities of the same general class: The critic compared the paintings in the exhibit with magazine photographs. This rule is by no means always observed, however, even in formal speech and writing. The usual practice is to employ to for likenesses between members of different classes: A language may be compared to a living organism. But when the comparison is between members of the same category, both to and with are used: The article compares the Chicago of today with (or to ) the Chicago of the 1890s. Following the past participle compared, either to or with is used regardless of whether differences or similarities are stressed or whether the things compared belong to the same or different classes: Compared with (or to ) the streets of 18th-century London, New York's streets are models of cleanliness and order. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for compare

British Dictionary definitions for compare


/ (kəmˈpɛə) /



comparison or analogy (esp in the phrase beyond compare)

Derived Forms

comparer, noun

Word Origin for compare

C15: from Old French comparer, from Latin comparāre to couple together, match, from compar equal to one another, from com- together + par equal; see par
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with compare


In addition to the idiom beginning with compare

  • compare notes

also see:

  • beyond compare
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.