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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Examples of compose in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

But the Sportbrake handles much more composed in and out of corners than performance crossovers that barely pass for anything more than a hatchback, like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Robert Duffer,, "Review: 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is no family truckster," 9 July 2018 Starting in 1930s New York as a big-band leader, Scott wrote quirky, tightly composed, frantic ditties for large-ensemble jazz outfits. Randall Roberts,, "Raymond Scott, the musical genius you probably don't know, is getting his own L.A. festival," 28 June 2018 In the 1820s, when Beethoven composed the symphony, monarchs were trying to roll back freedoms gained during preceding decades. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "7 reasons why Beethoven's Ninth is a big deal; Milwaukee Symphony performs it this weekend," 11 June 2018 Brown remains composed throughout the encounter, never raising his voice. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Milwaukee police stepped on Sterling Brown's ankle, mocked him, bodycam footage shows," 6 June 2018 Will Irwin, a noted San Francisco writer, composed a famous piece in the New York Sun newspaper amid the disaster. Bill Van Niekerken, San Francisco Chronicle, "1906 San Francisco earthquake: Old photos offer new glimpses of devastation," 18 Apr. 2018 Akron native Mark Mothersbaugh, formerly of Devo, composed the musical score. Chris Ball,, "Greta Gerwig's 'Lady Bird,' now on DVD and Blu-ray (review)," 16 Mar. 2018 The Dynamo looked more composed in the second half with fewer players who still need to prove themselves to coach Wilmer Cabrera on the field. Corey Roepken, Houston Chronicle, "Dynamo play to 1-1 draw with Portland Timbers in preseason," 14 Feb. 2018 The piece was composed when America was bitterly polarized by the Vietnam War and protests raged on college campuses. New York Times, "Is ‘Mass’ Leonard Bernstein’s Best Work, or His Worst?," 13 July 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

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for compose

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

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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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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