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

With heads of bisque, eyes of glass, and wigs of human hair—carefully plaited and curled—they are flawlessly composed and quite contained. Laura Jacobs, WSJ, "‘Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal’ Review: An Era’s Expectations in Miniature," 17 Nov. 2018 Professor Dowling starts off with the basics by outlining the structure and organization of the brain, the cells that compose it, and how chemical and electrical signals are transmitted through those cells. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Understanding the Brain is a catalog of all we don’t know about the brain," 10 Nov. 2018 But what bodes well for the final is that Croatia was more composed on the ball and created more chances as the game against England went on. Rob Harris,, "Three reasons why Croatia will win the World Cup final," 14 July 2018 So even when the policy changed in 2013, five more years went by before a letter was composed and mailed. Dugan Arnett,, "On tranquil Nantucket, a new worry about what’s under the sand," 3 July 2018 But my mom was completely composed and said told everyone to get ready, the wedding is on., "Bride and Groom Manage to Save Wedding Rings as House Burns Down Hours Before Their Ceremony," 2 July 2018 Another example is Emily who composes her own rap songs as M.C. Rosepower and is an artist like her dad. Chuck Gibson,, "Camp for children with autism is a dream come true," 26 June 2018 That team, composed of college players and coached by Hall of Famer Larry Brown, is expected to play teams from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Working vacation: Basketball and heritage on agenda for Purdue guard Sasha Stefanovic's Serbian trip," 21 June 2018 The two looks Beyoncé wears have very different attitudes — one composed and the other chaotic — but show how women are multi-faceted and aren’t always these perfect, composed beings., "Beyoncé Lets Her Outfits Do The Talking In Everything Is Love's First Video," 17 June 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

16 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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

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a knickknack or trinket

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