[kuh m-pair]
See more synonyms for compare on
verb (used with object), com·pared, com·par·ing.
  1. to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences: to compare two pieces of cloth; to compare the governments of two nations.
  2. to consider or describe as similar; liken: “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”
  3. Grammar. to form or display the degrees of comparison of (an adjective or adverb).
verb (used without object), com·pared, com·par·ing.
  1. to be worthy of comparison; be held equal: Dekker's plays cannot compare with Shakespeare's.
  2. to appear in a similar standing: His recital certainly compares with the one he gave last year.
  3. to differ in quality or accomplishment as specified: Their development compares poorly with that of neighbor nations.
  4. to vie; rival.
  5. to make a comparison: The only way we can say which product is better is to compare.
  1. comparison: Her beauty is beyond compare.
  1. 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 formscom·par·er, nounin·ter·com·pare, verb (used with object), in·ter·com·pared, in·ter·com·par·ing.pre·com·pare, verb (used with object), pre·com·pared, pre·com·par··com·pare, verb (used with object), re·com·pared, re·com·par·ing.un·com·pared, adjectivewell-com·pared, adjective
Can be confusedcompare 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for compare

Contemporary Examples of compare

Historical Examples of compare

British Dictionary definitions for compare


  1. (tr usually foll by to) to regard or represent as analogous or similar; likenthe general has been compared to Napoleon
  2. (tr usually foll by with) to examine in order to observe resemblances or differencesto compare rum with gin
  3. (intr usually foll by with) to be of the same or similar quality or valuegin compares with rum in alcoholic content
  4. (intr) to bear a specified relation of quality or value when examinedthis car compares badly with the other
  5. (intr usually foll by with) to correspond toprofits were £3.2 million. This compares with £2.6 million last year
  6. (tr) grammar to give the positive, comparative, and superlative forms of (an adjective)
  7. (intr) archaic to compete or vie
  8. compare notes to exchange opinions
  1. comparison or analogy (esp in the phrase beyond compare)
Derived Formscomparer, 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

Word Origin and History for compare

late 14c., from Old French comparer (12c., Modern French comparer), from Late Latin comparare "to liken, to compare" (see comparison). Related: Compared; comparing. To compare notes is from 1708. Phrase without compare (attested from 1620s, but similar phrasing dates to 1530s) seems to be altered by folk etymology from compeer "rival."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.