noun com·po·si·tion \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of composition

1 a : 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
2 a : 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


play \ˌkäm-pə-ˈzish-nəl, -ˈzi-shə-nᵊl\ adjective



Examples of composition in a Sentence

  1. the changing composition of the country's population

  2. the composition of a chemical compound

  3. The teacher reminded us to hand in our compositions at the end of class.

Recent Examples of composition from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of composition

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

COMPOSITION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of composition for English Language Learners

  • : 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

COMPOSITION Defined for Kids


noun com·po·si·tion \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən \

Definition of composition for Students

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

Law Dictionary


noun com·po·si·tion

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 3, compromise

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having an air of easy unconcern

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