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.

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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 Beach was a New Hampshire native who taught herself how to compose symphonies while performing with world-renowned orchestras, New Hampshire Public Radio reports. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2021 Masur commissioned Eric Nathan to compose a work to christen the new home. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2 Oct. 2021 Losey was entering his junior year at SDSU when the college president, Walter Hepner, asked him to become band director and to compose a school march. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Sep. 2021 Still, by taking delight in such clutter, Kennedy gives himself a pass to compose a suite of seemingly paradoxical positions. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 The woman is the only actor seen onscreen; the film is largely a duet for director and actress, whose travels and exertions compose the movie’s entire visible action. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 3 Sep. 2021 Everly used the guitar to compose much of his music, according to a press release. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 1 Sep. 2021 McDermott is too smart, too astute, too experienced to compose anything that wholly fails to illuminate. Alice Mcdermott,, 12 Aug. 2021 To help elevate these sensory experiences, the car’s creative director of sound, Renzo Vitale, has designed a welcome tune to evoke the spirit of the smell Coffinet mentioned, as well as compose music for the Chill, Vibe and Wanderlust moments. Nargess Banks, Forbes, 29 June 2021

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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Time Traveler for compose

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on compose

Nglish: Translation of compose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compose for Arabic Speakers


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