com·​pose | \ kəm-ˈpōz How to pronounce compose (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of compose in a Sentence

She composed a letter to her sister. He is in his studio composing.
Recent Examples on the Web Ellington didn’t compose for the instrument, but for the man behind it. John Edward Hasse, WSJ, "A Sapphire of Tonal Brilliance," 16 Oct. 2020 Their deep, low-frequency trills are strung together to compose songs loud enough to travel for hundreds of miles underwater. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "Blue Whales Sing All Day When They Migrate and All Night When They Don’t," 8 Oct. 2020 Not surprisingly, his editor asked him to compose an addendum suggesting what the coronavirus might tell us about the nation’s health care system. David Oshinsky, The New York Review of Books, "Health Care: The Best and the Rest," 6 Oct. 2020 Students will also compose an essay sharing their own stories and methods of combatting intolerance and inequality. Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland, "Our youth can shape a better world: Sun Messages," 5 Oct. 2020 Yet, the emotion of what’s taking place was evident, as Plasencia took a brief break to compose himself. Star Tribune, "Reusse: Gophers leaders, Mark Coyle get it wrong: men's track and field program too good to cut," 17 Sep. 2020 The ability to compose short emails orally via Cortana was a feature that Microsoft added to Cortana within Windows 10 years ago, then eliminated when Cortana turned into an app. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Cortana-powered Daily Briefing hits your Outlook email this month," 22 Sep. 2020 The software can compose many paragraphs of coherent text based on the content and style of a small prompt written by a human. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Could “Mindful A.I.” be the key to successful A.I.?," 22 Sep. 2020 The museum displayed Miss Pussycat's puppets, and Quintron punched a clock every day to go to a musical studio space in a second-floor gallery to compose. Will Coviello,, "Quintron and Miss Pussycat introduce Bath Buddy water level meter and preview upcoming new album," 16 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about compose

Time Traveler for compose

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for compose

Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for compose


How to pronounce compose (audio)

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 How to pronounce compose (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!