I'd really value your thoughts on this one.

I'm familiar with the following use of 'made of':

The shirt is made of silk.

But I'd like to know if anyone thinks using this phrasal verb as a synonym for comprise/consist of/be composed of/made up of is actually grammatically correct/non-standard usage.

The board is made of five members.

The board is made up of five members.

A few instances of this usage came up on a google search, but I'm not convinced...


The phrase made of is more appropriate when the material that forms the object is not described as consisting of discrete units or amounts, while made up of is more appropriate for a whole composed of several discrete units.

The car was made of steel


The car was made up of various steel parts

Boards consist of discrete individuals or groups of individuals (or the discrete entities they represent); therefor made up of is preferred.


X is made of/from Y. The table is made of wood.

X is made up of Y's(Plural). "Made of" is used in the sense composed of one material or one thing. "Made up of" is used in the sense composed of several things. E.g.- This machines is made up of several electronics components. The board is made up of all the presidents of the world.


Made of refers to component or main ingredient of an object. The boat is made of wood and iron

Made-up refers to imagination. There was no accident, he just made-up a story.


'made of' is for uncountable objects, 'made up of' is for countable objects.

Also, 'made of' always indicates a material. That doesn't really work with your example a "board made of five members" (i.e. that sentence semantically makes no sense), but would work with an actual board as used in construction ('wood' made of human bones?).

OTOH, 'made up of' can be used both literally and figuratively for any countable group of objects that make up a larger whole, so "board made up of five members" can be the figurative executive board where 5 people are employed.

'Made of' doesn't work figuratively. Ever.

  • 3
    No? Never? Well, then, I hope no one steps on your puppy tail. What are little boys made of? Slugs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails, that's what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. – J.R. Jun 19 '13 at 16:28
  • Good point. Best thing I could think of was 'man of steel' but that doesn't really contain 'made' anymore (but my guess is it's an ellipsis). – uliwitness Jun 19 '13 at 17:00
  • Thanks guys. As another example: 641,000 hits on google for: – Meadsie Jun 20 '13 at 8:41
  • "the team is made of ....". Perhaps as Bib said, "made up of" is preferred, but not explicitly grammatically incorrect.. unless anyone can give me some references I can use to support the argument that it is incorrect not just non-standard usage..? – Meadsie Jun 20 '13 at 8:46

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