com·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio) \

Definition of composition

1a : the act or process of composing specifically : arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form the painting's unique composition
b(1) : the arrangement of type for printing hand composition
(2) : the production of type or typographic characters (as in photocomposition) arranged for printing
2a : the manner in which something is composed
b : general makeup the changing ethnic composition of the city's population
c : the qualitative and quantitative makeup of a chemical compound the chemical composition of a polymer
3 : mutual settlement or agreement The two parties came to a composition.
4 : a product of mixing or combining various elements or ingredients a composition of rubber and cork
5 : an intellectual creation: such as
a : 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
b : a written piece of music especially of considerable size and complexity Her composition for piano and flute was played at the recital.
6 : the quality or state of being compound
7 : the operation of forming a composite function also : composite function

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Other Words from composition

compositional \ ˌkäm-​pə-​ˈzish-​nəl How to pronounce compositional (audio) , -​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
compositionally adverb

Synonyms for composition


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Examples of composition in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web With the intent of cultivating the next generation of musical theater songwriters, the challenge provides each winner with a two-person coaching team — a mentor and music director — to transform their original song into a Broadway-ready composition. Brett Shweky,, "Cypress Bay High grad wins musical theater songwriting challenge," 14 Oct. 2020 For example, my wife selected a Beethoven composition to open the first day. Keith Spera,, "Spera: Joy, frustration, sadness and a well-timed bribe are all part of home-schooling," 9 Oct. 2020 The fossils are tightly dated, meaning scientists can pinpoint them to a relatively small window of time based on the rock composition surrounding them. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Every Penguin in the World Comes from Earth's Lost Eighth Continent," 2 Oct. 2020 So learning how to create an appropriate exposure and how to create a beautiful composition... Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "Photographer Cristina Mittermeier on Dedicating Her Life to the Ocean: Women Who Travel Podcast," 30 Sep. 2020 Whether his subject is a singer in a classic role or a new composition by a young composer, Ross is engaged, informed, even avid. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, "The Cults of Wagner," 22 Sep. 2020 Dancer and Cirque du Soleil performer Mike Tyus moves in unison with a new composition by multi-instrumentalist and producer Dave Harrington, one half of the electronic music duo Darkside. Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times, "Watch: serpentwithfeet, Mike Tyus, Son Cha and Shonda Buchanan perform work inside the Broad," 17 Sep. 2020 It’s a very sophisticated composition that’s reminiscent of a Russian constructivist poster and a dada poem. Cody Delistraty, WSJ, "The Artist Making LaGuardia Airport Beautiful Again," 3 Sep. 2020 The bill would require companies to submit annual reports on board composition. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "California Lawmakers Push for More Diversity in the Boardroom," 29 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of composition

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

History and Etymology for composition

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

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Time Traveler for composition

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for composition

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce composition (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of composition

: the way in which something is put together or arranged : the combination of parts or elements that make up something
: a piece of writing especially : a brief essay written as a school assignment
: a written piece of music and especially one that is very long or complex


com·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio) \

Kids Definition of composition

1 : a short piece of writing done as a school exercise
2 : the act of writing words or music
3 : the manner in which the parts of a thing are put together : makeup, constitution The president discussed the population's changing composition. Each rock has a slightly different composition.
4 : a literary, musical, or artistic production



Legal Definition of composition

: 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

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