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 In the winter, the program will move to Claggett Middle School, where a new group of students will have the opportunity to compose original songs with Lempner. Mary Jane Brewer, cleveland, "ORMACO sponsors songwriting program for students at Medina’s Garfield Elementary School," 20 Dec. 2019 The child's penetrating question compelled Rogers to compose a song about the feeling of control. Arkansas Online, "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Who's laughing now; New football coach; Hearing just peachy," 10 Dec. 2019 Musicians help rehabilitate inmates by teaching them to compose and play classical music. CNN, "CNN 10 - December 2, 2019," 1 Dec. 2019 Mountains up to a couple kilometers in height cover about 14 percent of Titan and appear to be composed of water ice that acts like bedrock in these cold temperatures. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "New map shows the strange terrain of Titan," 21 Nov. 2019 Trumbo called a timeout with his Knights leading 16-11 to remind the girls to stay composed and play for one another. Megan Woodward,, "Volleyball: Century plays ‘smart,’ takes down Oakdale to cap season with 2A state crown," 16 Nov. 2019 Back at the Dickinson house, Austin is struggling to compose a line (shocker) and thinks that masturbating to Sue’s pocket-sized portrait will aid him in this obstacle. Kristin Vartan,, "The Dickinson recap binge guide: Episodes 1-5," 6 Nov. 2019 Josh James, Fernando Rodney and the relievers need an extra moment or two to compose themselves. Ben Walker,, "The Late Show: World Series games this year are averaging 3 hours, 54 minutes," 27 Oct. 2019 By the time Austen sat down to compose the missive, she and her family members had settled in comfortably for the evening. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "This Jane Austen Letter Highlights the Horrors of 19th-Century Dentistry," 19 Oct. 2019

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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Statistics for compose

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compose.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on compose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for compose

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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