verbcom·pared, com·par·ing, com·pares
- To consider or describe as similar, equal, or analogous; liken: Is it right to compare the human brain to a computer?
- To examine in order to note the similarities or differences of: We compared the two products for quality and cost. The article compares the recent recession with the one in the early 1990s.
- Grammar To form the positive, comparative, or superlative degree of (an adjective or adverb).
- To be worthy of comparison; bear comparison: two concert halls that just do not compare.
- To draw comparisons.
Comparison: a musician beyond compare.
Origin of compare
Middle English comparen from
Old French comparer from
Latin comparāre from compār equal com- com- pār equal
; see perə-2
in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: A common rule of usage holds that compare to and compare with are not interchangeable. To implies “in the direction of” or “toward a target,” and so comparing Miriam to a summer's day means treating the summer's day as a standard or paragon and noting that Miriam, though a different kind of entity, is similar in some ways to it. With implies “together” or “side by side,” and so comparing the Senate version of the bill with the House version means treating them symmetrically, as two examples of the same kind of entity, and noting both the similarities and the differences. It's a subtle distinction, and most writers accept both prepositions for both kinds of comparison, though with a preference that aligns with the traditional rule. The 2014 Usage Survey presented He compared the runner to a gazelle, where the items are in different categories and the first is likened to the second; the Panelists found to more acceptable than with by a large margin (95 percent to 55 percent). The margin of acceptability was slimmer for a sentence about assessing the similarities and differences between two comparable items: The police compared the forged signature with the original. The acceptability of with was only slightly greater than that of to (84 percent to 76 percent), and with might have been even more acceptable had the sentence been about two forged signatures.
(third-person singular simple present compares, present participle comparing, simple past and past participle compared)
- To assess the similarities and differences between two or more things ["to compare X with Y"]. Having made the comparison of X with Y, one might have found it similar to Y or different from Y.
- Compare the tiger's coloration with that of the zebra.
- You can't compare my problems and yours.
- To declare two things to be similar in some respect ["to compare X to Y"].
- Astronomers have compared comets to dirty snowballs
- (grammar) To form the three degrees of comparison of (an adjective).
- We compare good as good, better, best
- (intransitive) To be similar (often used in the negative).
- A sapling and a fully-grown oak tree do not compare.
- illustration by comparison; simile
Origin See also: comparé
From Old French comparer, from Latin comparare (“to prepare, procure”), from compar (“like or equal to another”), from com- + par (“equal”).