com·​pose | \kəm-ˈpōz \
composed; composing

Definition of compose 

transitive verb

1a : to form by putting together : fashion a committee composed of three representativesCurrent Biography

b : to form the substance of : constitute composed of many ingredients

c : to produce (columns, pages of type, etc.) by composition

2a : to create by mental or artistic labor : produce compose a sonnet

b(1) : to formulate and write (a piece of music) composed a symphony

(2) : to compose music for

3 : to deal with or act on so as to reduce to a minimum compose their differences

4 : to arrange in proper or orderly form The two men had laid him on the bed, and composed his limbs.— Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

5 : to free from agitation : calm, settle composed himself Life moves on, … and one must compose oneself to meet it …— Rose Macaulay

intransitive verb

: to practice composition (as of literary, musical, or typographical work) At the age of 10, he was composing at the piano.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for compose


becalm, calm, lull, lullaby, quiet, quieten [chiefly British], salve, settle, soothe, still, tranquilize (also tranquillize)


agitate, discompose, disquiet, disturb, key (up), perturb, upset, vex

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Examples of compose in a Sentence

She composed a letter to her sister. He is in his studio composing.

Recent Examples on the Web

Powell is the sole full-time employee of the boutique, but has a lot of help from volunteers, including from Wellspring’s associate board, composed of young professionals. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "The power of readers’ generosity: The Seattle Times kicks off latest Fund For the Needy," 19 Nov. 2018 The church's Edge team, composed of high school students, arrived there on Wednesday. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Stranded Troy Kensington Church mission members back from Haiti," 11 July 2018 The departures level would offer 31,000 square feet, composed of the passenger waiting areas and retail and concession space, an elevator and restrooms. Colin Campbell,, "BWI proposes expedited, $60 million concourse expansion for Southwest Airlines," 10 July 2018 An international team of astronomers tested the equivalence principle under extreme conditions: a system composed of two superdense stellar corpses known as white dwarfs and an even denser neutron star. Mike Wall, NBC News, "Einstein's theory of relativity passes its toughest test yet," 5 July 2018 When maps are drawn to create districts, an effort is made to have at least one of them composed of a minority-majority population. J. Harry Jones,, "Lawsuit challenging by-district council elections back in court," 21 June 2018 The original plans for the PAC called for a budget north of $500,000 and a steering committee composed of local business leaders. Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News, "PAC aims to raise more than $1 million for anti-charter amendment campaign," 20 June 2018 The new iPad Pro should be an entertainment powerhouse thanks to a total of eight speakers, composed of four woofers and four tweeters. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Tinkerers, repair shops will have mixed feelings about this iPad Pro teardown," 12 Nov. 2018 Just as the month was closing, Kehinde Wiley traveled to St. Louis to celebrate the opening of his latest exhibition, a series of paintings that the artist composed in the city in 2017. Vogue, "The Saint Louis Art Museum and Saint Louis Fashion Fund Welcome Kehinde Wiley to the Midwest," 5 Nov. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for compose

Middle English, from Anglo-French composer, from Latin componere (perfect indicative composui) — more at compound

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Statistics for compose

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compose

The first known use of compose was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for compose



English Language Learners Definition of compose

: to come together to form or make (something)

: to create and write (a piece of music or writing)

: to practice the art of writing music


com·​pose | \kəm-ˈpōz \
composed; composing

Kids Definition of compose

1 : to form by putting together compose a team

2 : to be the parts or materials of This cloth is composed of silk and wool.

3 : to create and write compose a song compose a letter

4 : to make calm : get under control Although the news is shocking, I'll try to compose myself.

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More from Merriam-Webster on compose

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with compose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for compose

Spanish Central: Translation of compose

Nglish: Translation of compose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compose for Arabic Speakers

Comments on compose

What made you want to look up compose? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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