com·​po·​si·​tion ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio)
: the act or process of composing
specifically : arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form
the painting's unique composition
: the arrangement of type for printing
hand composition
: the production of type or typographic characters (as in photocomposition) arranged for printing
: the manner in which something is composed
: general makeup
the changing ethnic composition of the city's population
: the qualitative and quantitative makeup of a chemical compound
the chemical composition of a polymer
: mutual settlement or agreement
The two parties came to a composition.
: a product of mixing or combining various elements or ingredients
a composition of rubber and cork
: an intellectual creation: such as
: a piece of writing
especially : a school exercise in the form of a brief essay
wrote a composition on the role of the police in our society
: a written piece of music especially of considerable size and complexity
Her composition for piano and flute was played at the recital.
: the quality or state of being compound
: the operation of forming a composite function
ˌkäm-pə-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce composition (audio)
compositionally adverb

Example Sentences

the changing composition of the country's population the composition of a chemical compound The teacher reminded us to hand in our compositions at the end of class.
Recent Examples on the Web All will be examining board composition and scanning for weaknesses in individual directors. Lila Maclellan, Fortune, 13 Jan. 2023 The charter amendment goes further than the city ordinance, and differs in composition and scope. Megan Becka, cleveland, 29 Dec. 2022 And even though the total value of deals has hardly changed in the first two quarters, the composition and distribution of deals have changed. Philipp Sandner, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2022 Pelosi imperiously hand-picked the whole committee, adding two intensely anti-Trump Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — a veneer of bipartisanship that could not conceal GOP objections to the panel’s composition and direction. The Editors, National Review, 21 Dec. 2022 However, some people may see results sooner or later depending on their individual body composition and health condition. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 15 Dec. 2022 These peaks can be explained by the composition and velocity of the material ejected from the merger. Sanjana Curtis, Scientific American, 12 Dec. 2022 But if the order originates with a poultry producer, the boxes are going to be larger, significantly stronger in composition and corrugation and lined with a coating to prevent leakage. Matthew Shaer, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 There are also options to study your personal anthropology through the ancestral composition and generational timeline and utilize their family tree tool. Dallas News, 22 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'composition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English composicioun, from Anglo-French composicion, from Latin composition-, compositio, from componere — see compose

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of composition was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near composition

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


com·​po·​si·​tion ˌkäm-pə-ˈzish-ən How to pronounce composition (audio)
: the act or process of composing
: the manner in which the parts of a thing are put together : makeup
the composition of a painting
: the elements of a compound
the composition of rubber
: a product of combining ingredients : combination
a composition made of several different metals
: a literary, musical, or artistic production
especially : a short piece of writing done as a school exercise

Legal Definition


: an agreement between an insolvent debtor and several creditors whereby partial payment of the debts discharges in full the original obligations compare accord sense 3, compromise

More from Merriam-Webster on composition

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