com·​po·​si·​tion | \ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən \

Definition of composition 

1a : the act or process of composing specifically : arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form the painting's unique composition

b(1) : the arrangement of type for printing hand composition

(2) : the production of type or typographic characters (as in photocomposition) arranged for printing

2a : the manner in which something is composed

b : general makeup the changing ethnic composition of the city's population

c : the qualitative and quantitative makeup of a chemical compound the chemical composition of a polymer

3 : mutual settlement or agreement The two parties came to a composition.

4 : a product of mixing or combining various elements or ingredients a composition of rubber and cork

5 : an intellectual creation: such as

a : a piece of writing especially : a school exercise in the form of a brief essay wrote a composition on the role of the police in our society

b : a written piece of music especially of considerable size and complexity Her composition for piano and flute was played at the recital.

6 : the quality or state of being compound

7 : the operation of forming a composite function also : composite function

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Other Words from composition

compositional \ ˌkäm-​pə-​ˈzish-​nəl , -​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
compositionally adverb

Synonyms for composition


article, essay, paper, theme

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Examples of composition in a Sentence

the changing composition of the country's population the composition of a chemical compound The teacher reminded us to hand in our compositions at the end of class.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Data have been weighted for age, race, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the UnitedStates age 18 and over. Colleen Leahey Mckeegan, Marie Claire, "Marie Claire's Guide to Having a Baby," 1 Oct. 2018 To choose the composition of each year’s vaccine, more than 100 centers around the globe track influenza viruses. Tara C. Smith, SELF, "No, the Flu Shot Is Not 100 Percent Effective. Yes, You Still Need It," 27 Sep. 2018 The iron changed the elemental composition of the gas, and therefore, the stars. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Milky Way Died 7 Billion Years Ago And Came Back To Life," 24 Aug. 2018 As Matt Ford suggested in The New Republic, now is the time for Democrats to get serious about putting the composition of the court front and center as an election issue. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "If Democrats want to fight Brett Kavanaugh, they have a lot of ammunition.," 10 July 2018 Fries hopes to analyze the composition of the fragments. Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, "Meteorite search off the Washington coast recovers two small fragments," 3 July 2018 Republican leaders hope to move through the confirmation process quickly and seat a new justice on the bench before the start of the October term, and before November elections could swing the composition of the Senate. Erica Martinson, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court vacancy puts Murkowski in the middle, again," 29 June 2018 Real change depends on whether Texans change the composition of the State Legislature after the 2020 Census. Kevin Diaz, San Antonio Express-News, "Supreme Court give Texas partial victory in racial gerrymandering case, state must redraw one district," 29 June 2018 Your goal is to neutralize the negative energy, and fire does that by changing the chemical composition of the paper to ash. Habib Sadeghi,, "Do This for 12 Minutes a Day to Release Negative Emotions," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'composition.' 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 composition

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for composition

Middle English composicioun, from Anglo-French composicion, from Latin composition-, compositio, from componere — see compose

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for composition

The first known use of composition was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of composition

: the way in which something is put together or arranged : the combination of parts or elements that make up something

: a piece of writing; especially : a brief essay written as a school assignment

: a written piece of music and especially one that is very long or complex


com·​po·​si·​tion | \ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən \

Kids Definition of composition

1 : a short piece of writing done as a school exercise

2 : the act of writing words or music

3 : the manner in which the parts of a thing are put together : makeup, constitution The president discussed the population's changing composition. Each rock has a slightly different composition.

4 : a literary, musical, or artistic production



Legal Definition of composition 

: an agreement between an insolvent debtor and several creditors whereby partial payment of the debts discharges in full the original obligations — compare accord sense 3, compromise

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Comments on composition

What made you want to look up composition? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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