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

Wende Zomnir, a founder of Urban Decay, owns several properties composing the global makeup brand’s headquarters next to the 16th Street property. Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, "Newport Beach cuts one option, adds another in search for potential homeless shelter site," 4 Sep. 2019 The film’s supporting cast includes Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, and Stephen Merchant, while Oscar-winning musician Michael Giacchino composed the film’s score. Joey Nolfi,, "Taika Waititi lampoons Nazi allegiance in new Jojo Rabbit trailer," 3 Sep. 2019 On another third down, with pressure in his face, Flacco remained composed and threw a dart over the middle to receiver Courtland Sutton. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Analysis: Exiting long preseason, reasons for optimism, concern," 30 Aug. 2019 The recording shows workers using heavy machinery to dig into the ground, and a massive well nearby pumping scarce groundwater for use in mixing cement to hold the six-inch-wide bollards that compose the wall. Stefan Becket, CBS News, "Construction begins on 30-foot border wall in fragile Arizona desert," 29 Aug. 2019 The album reimagines songs originally composed in the 19th and early 20th centuries to advance women’s voting rights. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Harry Belafonte, Rosanne Cash, Karrin Allyson Celebrate 'Centennial Tribute to Women's Suffrage': Exclusive," 29 Aug. 2019 The great lyric poet Sappho, active on the island of Lesbos in the seventh to sixth centuries B.C., composed about 10,000 lines, 600 of which have survived. Raquel López, National Geographic, "Did sons and daughters get the same education in ancient Greece?," 28 Aug. 2019 Spencer Arceneaux looked composed at quarterback and has plenty of weapons around him. Ben Thomas |, al, "Coastal Picks: Will UMS’ win streak continue? Who paints the cannon?," 27 Aug. 2019 Featuring musical arrangements composed for dance, song, guitar, and percussion. Lisa Herendeen, The Mercury News, "S.F. Bay Area calendar: Greek festival, comedy and more," 25 Aug. 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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Statistics for compose

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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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 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

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).


concealment of treason or felony

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