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 Osaka politely tried to answer, but had to leave the podium to compose herself., 21 Aug. 2021 The latest episode of Billboard Explains breaks down the history of the Hot 100 and the factors that compose a hit single today, from streaming to sales to radio play. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 1 Sep. 2021 The unifying of Oregon alums that compose the Always Us roster and bringing those players and others back to campus to connect with the current team has been a central part of the week’s experience. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 23 July 2021 These palpable emotions — ranging from distress to defiance — are expressed in 48 personal letters from Black mothers to America that compose the book boy: Defending Our Black Sons’ Identity in America. Dallas News, 1 June 2021 One recent paper implicated the tube size of slime molds—as in, the giant, visible-to-the-naked eye tubes that compose the organism—that could be a memory repository. Jennifer Frazer, Scientific American, 28 May 2021 Until now, Biden had mostly been spared the types of quickly spiraling foreign crises or surprise domestic emergencies that compose any presidency. Kevin Liptak, CNN, 15 May 2021 These songs are like one movement that all compose an ode to youth, growing up, and life in Louisiana. Andrea Bossi, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2021 For the first time in nearly two decades, California faced rotating power outages this past August, with grid operators blaming the rolling blackouts on a massive heat wave and the need to find additional energy sources that compose the grid. Shannon Larson,, 17 Feb. 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

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 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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