Definition of comprehensive in English:



  • 1Including or dealing with all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.

    ‘a comprehensive list of sources’
    • ‘Both states signed their treaties claiming they were elements of a comprehensive peace.’
    • ‘The documentary shows its age, but it provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the legendary director.’
    • ‘This will include the development of a comprehensive manual for all aspects of driver licencing including that of driving schools and instructors.’
    • ‘The training videos contain comprehensive information on all aspects of good environmental practice at farm level, presented in an interesting and stimulating manner.’
    • ‘Though a large volume of literature is available on the issues discussed in the book it is a comprehensive treatise on related aspects of food and nutrition and the editors have taken pain to deal with every aspect.’
    • ‘This comprehensive volume of nearly 600 poems, many accompanied by the Spanish original, bursts with evocative images.’
    • ‘But these are unavoidable aspects of a comprehensive exposition of any subject.’
    • ‘The result is the first comprehensive analysis of preventable patient deaths linked to infections within 5,810 hospitals nationally.’
    • ‘Its Explore Kodiak guide has a comprehensive list of outfitters and free activities.’
    • ‘Take a peek at our comprehensive guide to dining out in the city.’
    • ‘More and more colleges and universities are developing comprehensive diversity plans to guide changes in campus policies and procedures.’
    • ‘Currently the only possible source for a comprehensive list of travellers, as we've already established, lies in the carriers' passenger lists.’
    • ‘From a comprehensive list of nearly 1,600 daily newspapers, 500 newspapers were selected using standard interval sampling.’
    • ‘Seeing the problems his students faced, Mr. Silman has created the first comprehensive strategic guide in dictionary form.’
    • ‘The entire nightmare could have been avoided had he kept comprehensive documentation of his dealings with the plaintiffs.’
    • ‘It called for constituting a committee to conduct a comprehensive review of all aspects of the party's performance and make recommendations for future plan of action.’
    • ‘That was one element within a comprehensive report.’
    • ‘The Guide contains a comprehensive list of businesses and services in the town and contains a very useful street map of Ballinrobe.’
    • ‘I thought he was fairly comprehensive in his coverage of various issues.’
    • ‘Some sites offer links to others and through such links a reasonably comprehensive list can be obtained.’
    diverse, diversified, wide, broad, broad-based, eclectic, indiscriminate
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    1. 1.1 Of large content or scope; wide-ranging.
      ‘a comprehensive collection of photographs’
      • ‘Naval historians would do well to familiarize themselves with his style of narrative, his comprehensive coverage, and scope of research.’
      • ‘Yet, inevitably, the comprehensive scope of Ackroyd's book requires that he sometimes sacrifice elaboration for example, depth for breadth.’
      • ‘Unbelievable in its comprehensive scope, the vast material supports a view of Africa as the archetypal artistic environment.’
      • ‘Their collaborative research is quite comprehensive in its scope.’
      • ‘The volume does not cover all issues in detail and it was not intended to be comprehensive in scope.’
      • ‘Sir Gawaine's British West Indies collection is part of a wider comprehensive collection of stamps from Great Britain and the British Empire.’
      • ‘This presentation is comprehensive in scope but lacks much historical analysis.’
      • ‘It combines a comprehensive scope, concisely written entries and the best in current biblical scholarship.’
      • ‘Making broad scope, comprehensive documentaries about an event the magnitude of World War II is a tall order, often with less than satisfactory results.’
      • ‘The Convention is extraordinarily comprehensive in scope.’
      • ‘The Senate Inquiry into mandatory sentencing was broad-ranging, thorough and comprehensive in terms of scope and evidence.’
      • ‘Although debate on the measure was fairly abbreviated, the resulting measure was comprehensive in both its scope and design.’
      • ‘The design phase is comprehensive in scope, tackling everything from content and design to functionality and user interface.’
      • ‘Because it is comprehensive in scope and specific in detail, it can eliminate the ambiguities that exist in most partnerships.’
      • ‘The Guardian's more comprehensive survey also came up with far higher job losses than the government admits.’
      • ‘Its thorough research and comprehensive scope should prove invaluable for anyone seriously interested in the subject.’
      • ‘The authors make no claims for completeness, indeed are transparent about the gaps, yet this book is impressively comprehensive in scale, scope and analytical range.’
      • ‘This is a wide ranging and comprehensive survey of children and the experience of childhood.’
      inclusive, all-inclusive, complete
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a victory or defeat) achieved or suffered by a large margin.
      ‘a comprehensive victory for Swansea’
      • ‘Selby Warriors also won their first game in PN division five, albeit by only a single point, and they will be looking for a more comprehensive victory on Saturday as they visit the hapless Panthers.’
      • ‘Last October's comprehensive defeats by the Irish at both senior and under-21 levels on their own soil shows Kelly that the opposition has stepped up a gear.’
      • ‘However, this was a very comprehensive victory, a complete team performance.’
      • ‘Gloucester were a distant second-best as 12,500 Munster fans roared their side on to a comprehensive victory which gives them an away quarter-final in April.’
      • ‘But Cameron could not argue that Thursday's decisive victory was comprehensive, because his forward march appears to have ground to a halt at the northern boundaries of Middle England.’
      • ‘Brookes added the goal to complete a comprehensive victory for Albion.’
      • ‘Almost immediately afterwards, the Under-17s cemented victory in their own league with a comprehensive defeat of visitors Sandbach.’
      • ‘Hamed, back for the first time since his comprehensive defeat to Marco Antonio Barrera in Las Vegas, looked sluggish and occasionally even disinterested.’
      • ‘The last thing they need now is this afternoon's game at Leeds, who will be desperate to recover from the disappointment of Wednesday's comprehensive defeat by Real Madrid.’
      • ‘Three minutes after Hartson made it three, Petrov made it four and what was looking like a comprehensive victory started heading inexorably towards a humiliation.’
      • ‘The Oxford Kings' defense struggled through the first five innings of Sunday's game against the Cambridge Monarchs, allowing the Tabs to take eight runs on the way to a comprehensive victory.’
      • ‘Salford's comprehensive victory laid down a significant marker ahead of the play-offs and will have created considerable doubt in Leigh minds.’
      • ‘Richmond continued their domination in both league and cup with a comprehensive victory over Dorking in the Surrey Cup quarter-finals.’
      • ‘Their comprehensive defeat was confounded even further yesterday when they visited Yorkshire Academy in the League Cup quarter-finals.’
      • ‘Oxford UCCE women's cricket team began this season as they finished the last - with a comprehensive victory over their Cambridge rivals.’
      • ‘Cork's attack was toothless that day and, in a game that was stuffy for long enough, Tipperary's eight-point victory was comprehensive.’
      • ‘Blue is the colour in North Yorkshire today after the Conservative Party swept to a comprehensive victory in the county council elections.’
      • ‘With his opponent looking tired, Khan took full advantage landing plenty of powerful shots to secure a comprehensive victory.’
      • ‘Deputy head teacher Patrick Earnshaw, who witnessed the school's comprehensive victory at Kendal Town Hall on Thursday night, said he was extremely proud of his students.’
      • ‘After their comprehensive defeat at Scarborough last Saturday, York will be looking to get their Oxbridge ECB Yorkshire Premier League programme back on the rails this weekend.’
    3. 1.3 (of motor-vehicle insurance) providing cover for most risks, including damage to the policyholder's own vehicle.
      • ‘He thought that all drivers should be made to have fully comprehensive insurance and that driving jobs should be given to local people.’
      • ‘This insurance is designed to protect motorists from payout shortfalls that could arise between the original price paid for a car and the comprehensive insurance payout in the case of loss.’
      • ‘Even those who have fully comprehensive motor insurance while driving in the UK need to check, as most policies only offer third-party cover on the continent.’
      • ‘If you happen to own a posh motor, or are particularly accident-prone, then you might consider taking out fully comprehensive insurance.’
      • ‘It must be comprehensive insurance, because you're driving someone else's car.’
      • ‘Some cost items will differ for different vehicle types, notably comprehensive insurance, but in the main it is reasonable to use fleet size.’
      • ‘He agreed only after ensuring that he was covered under the defendant's comprehensive car insurance policy.’
      • ‘The good news for motorists with fully comprehensive insurance is that they are covered if their car has water damage.’
      • ‘Motorists with fully comprehensive insurance mistakenly think they have insurance for the contents of their car along with the car itself.’
      • ‘The cost of comprehensive motor insurance has almost doubled, rising by 86%.’
      • ‘For example, a 56-year-old driving a 2001 Toyota Avensis received a quote of €735 from Axa for comprehensive insurance.’
      • ‘Is it possible to take out one insurance policy, preferably comprehensive, that would cover us all to drive either of the cars?’
      • ‘A typical comprehensive and collision policy will usually only cover the fair market value for your car.’
  • 2British Relating to or denoting a system of secondary education in which children of all abilities from a particular area are educated in one school.

    ‘a comprehensive school’
    • ‘The comprehensive education system was last night seized upon as a key factor in reducing the chances of Scots born between 1967 and 1976 bettering themselves.’
    • ‘For her, as for much of the Scottish educational establishment, the comprehensive system is sacrosanct.’
    • ‘Supporters of the comprehensive system pointed to the figures as evidence that selective education in the state sector was unnecessary.’
    • ‘Mike says the play, which criticises the values that prevail in the comprehensive school education system, is ideal for young performers.’
    • ‘It is important that all schools see themselves, and are seen, as part of a comprehensive system of secondary education.’
    • ‘Historically, comprehensive secondary education in mixed-ability schools was first introduced by Labour.’
    • ‘We have given long-standing support to comprehensive education and we stand by that.’
    • ‘Northern Ireland still uses the selective grammar school system that was largely replaced by comprehensive education in Britain in the 1970s.’
    • ‘Because of the spread of comprehensive education from the mid-1960s, by 1990 only about 7 per cent of local authorities had retained grammar schools.’
    • ‘I have fought for comprehensive education all my life, including during the 20 years I have been at Kingsland.’
    • ‘Before the comprehensive state education systems were established, there had been some local control of schools and some local funds raised for them.’
    • ‘Is the comprehensive education system to blame for making these teachers' jobs practically impossible?’
    • ‘Catholic students entered University as never before, and were further aided by the introduction of comprehensive education.’
    • ‘He introduced comprehensive education, women's emancipation legislation, and reforms in higher education.’
    • ‘I don't believe we'd have the made the progress we have with girls' education without comprehensive education.’
    • ‘League tables have led to a systematic attack on comprehensive education.’
    • ‘She supports comprehensive education and opposes selection.’
    • ‘The expansion of higher education has been on the back of comprehensive education.’
    • ‘New Zealand has a fully comprehensive education system.’
    • ‘The whole point of a comprehensive education system is to encourage the best and brightest pupils not merely to educate those with rich parents who went to private schools.’
  • 3archaic Relating to understanding.


  • A comprehensive school.

    ‘he trained as an accountant after leaving the local comprehensive’
    ‘when I was 14 I was at comprehensive’
    • ‘We should be defending mixed local comprehensives.’
    • ‘Some of us were going to private schools or comprehensives, so we didn't have to take it.’
    • ‘All but one of the top 26 state schools nationally were comprehensives.’
    • ‘We do not argue that public comprehensives jettison their professional and technical programs.’
    • ‘More than one in five teachers who taught some maths in comprehensives had nothing better than an A-Level in the subject, and the proportion fell to just over half in the case of RE.’
    • ‘Instead, many went to council-run comprehensives and attended newer universities or none.’
    • ‘About 12,000 pupils went on to study at the same 400 selective grammar schools or top-rated comprehensives.’
    • ‘As today's exclusive survey shows, a massive gulf separates Bradford's highest-flying comprehensives from those with lower scores.’
    • ‘More recently, he has declared opposition to comprehensives and support for the return of grammar schools.’
    • ‘City academies - independent comprehensives part-funded by the private sector - and specialist schools will not be introduced north of the Border.’
    • ‘‘There is no point at which grammar schools exceed the performance of comprehensives at teaching able pupils,’ he said at the time.’
    • ‘Plans to rebuild two other comprehensives - Beckfoot and Grange Technology College - plus new special schools will be included in a ‘second wave’ bid to be put in over the next few weeks.’
    • ‘In the latest set of school league tables, comprehensives are getting results as good as or higher than grammar schools in the ‘value added’ part of the table.’
    • ‘People power has forced councillors to rethink plans to change school catchment areas and bar scores of pupils from their local comprehensives.’
    • ‘Laidlaw has given assurances that his schools would remain comprehensives and would take everyone from the catchment area.’
    • ‘The majority of these producers did not attend fee-paying schools; more went to grammar schools or comprehensives.’
    • ‘A Guardian leak suggests that one of the most scandalous proposals, letting ‘public’ schools take over comprehensives, may be restricted to London.’
    • ‘About half went to fee-paying schools and the rest to state grammars and comprehensives.’
    • ‘The snuffing out of that option, by the ideologically driven determination to replace grammar schools with comprehensives, was a quite explicit piece of social engineering.’
    • ‘In England they have been transforming failed comprehensives into specialist schools and city academies.’


Early 17th century: from French compréhensif, -ive, from late Latin comprehensivus, from the verb comprehendere ‘grasp mentally’.