noun, often attributive
com·bi·na·tion | \ ˌkäm-bə-ˈnā-shən \

Definition of combination 

1a : a result or product of combining Water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. especially : an alliance of individuals, corporations, or states united to achieve a social, political, or economic end

b : two or more persons working as a team Together they are a winning combination.

2 : an ordered sequence: such as

a : a sequence of letters or numbers chosen in setting a lock What is the combination to the safe? also : the mechanism operating or moved by the sequence

b : a rapid sequence of punches in boxing

c : any subset of a set considered without regard to order within the subset

3 : any of various one-piece undergarments for the upper and lower parts of the body usually used in plural wore combinations in the winter to keep warm

4 : an instrument designed to perform two or more tasks The tool is a jackknife and bottle opener combination.

5a : the act or process of combining especially : that of uniting to form a chemical compound The combination of these two chemicals can cause an explosion.

b : the quality or state of being combined

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Other words from combination

combinational \ˌkäm-bə-ˈnā-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of combination in a Sentence

Water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. The car's interior is available in various color combinations. A combination of factors led to her decision. The milkshakes come in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, or any combination of these. He has the right combination of talent and experience. The combination of these two chemicals can cause an explosion. What is the combination to the safe?
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Recent Examples on the Web

The following day, Meghan went for a similar combination of slightly messier loose curls and a bun both with center partings., "Meghan Markle Has a New Hairdresser in Her Glam Squad and His Signature Look Is 'Perfect for Her'," 12 July 2018 In the prime of his career, in the mid-90s through the mid-aughts, he was considered one of hockey’s greatest players, a combination of uncontainable speed and skill. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Should Detroit Red Wings retire Sergei Fedorov's No. 91? It's time.," 12 July 2018 The exterior paint Reynolds uses in the mural — in combination with some spray paint — dries a lot quicker than the oil paint he's used to. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Artist behind Ray Bradbury mural in Waukegan hopes his work will inspire kids who don't have access to art," 13 July 2018 The Journal used ratios of income to net assets provided by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research to estimate whether a person's savings, in combination with Social Security, would be sufficient. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "Behind on Retirement Savings? It’s Not Too Late to Catch Up," 12 July 2018 Back-to-back bogeys by Frodigh in combination with a pair of pars by Parziale enabled the reigning MassAm champ to pull within two with three holes remaining. Mia Berry,, "Defending MassAm champion Matt Parziale falls in quarters," 12 July 2018 The team then tested the new drug in combination with older antibiotics, which many bacteria have become resistant to. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "New “Immunobiotic” Could Treat Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs," 6 July 2018 The current recommended cure — an injection of a drug called ceftriaxone, given in combination with a second antibiotic, azithromycin — is the last good option to treat this infection, and there are already signs that its days may be numbered. Helen Branswell, STAT, "A case study in the fast-rising threat of antibiotic resistance," 6 July 2018 Synthesized in 1980 by the French company Roussel-Uclaf, the compound dubbed RU486 became the world’s most controversial drug after it was developed to derail a pregnancy when used in combination with a second drug that causes contractions. Marie Mccullough,, "Can the abortion pill treat advanced lung cancer? This infertility expert wants to find out," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'combination.' 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 combination

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

History and Etymology for combination

see combine entry 1

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for combination

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

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More Definitions for combination


com·bi·na·tion | \ ˌkäm-bə-ˈnā-shən \

Kids Definition of combination

1 : a result or product of combining or being combined I succeeded by a combination of hard work and luck.

2 : a series of numbers or letters that is used to open a lock



Legal Definition of combination 

1a : an alliance of individuals, states, or especially corporations united to achieve a common (as economic) end — see also combination in restraint of trade — compare joint venture sense 1, merger

b : conspiracy

2 : a union of old or new elements or parts that is patentable because it produces a new and useful result — compare aggregation sense 2, equivalent

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