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.

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of compose in a Sentence

She composed a letter to her sister. He is in his studio composing.
Recent Examples on the Web This Rufus Wainwright is sober and battle-hardened after getting roughed up by the classical community for daring to compose two full-scale operas. Tim Greiving, Washington Post, "Rufus Wainwright is sober, battle-hardened and wrestling with the demons of middle age," 8 July 2020 Just click to compose a tweet and tap the new icon with wavelengths. Josh Rivera, USA TODAY, "Twitter testing 'voice tweets' feature for a limited group of iOS users," 18 June 2020 Players will presumably be rated on their ability to frame and compose interesting shots, as in the original. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Over 21 years later, Pokémon Snap is coming back on Switch," 17 June 2020 Roosevelt, during his first year of presidency, unsuccessfully campaigned for Admiralty, Chichagof, and Baranof Islands, which compose most of the northern third of the Tongass, to be turned into a brown bear preserve. Bjorn Dihle, Outdoor Life, "The Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest is Vital for Both Hunters and Brown Bears," 16 June 2020 Just tap the sticker icon in the chat compose window to peruse your options. Brian Barrett, Wired, "How to Get the Most Out of Signal and Private Messaging," 6 June 2020 Black people, who compose about 6.5% of California’s population, made up 23% of people injured by neck restraints. Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times, "Police are banning a controversial neck hold after George Floyd’s death," 5 June 2020 There were mornings in which Rapp would awaken early and compose an entire song. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Steven Rapp, lost to COVID-19, was Greenwood’s Renaissance man," 5 June 2020 But strictly following this rule, and only this rule, is a pretty weak way to compose your shots. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, "Six common photography mistakes to avoid," 27 May 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about compose

Time Traveler for compose

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for compose

Last Updated

20 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!