com·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio) \

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

Other Words from composition

compositional \ ˌkäm-​pə-​ˈzish-​nəl How to pronounce composition (audio) , -​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
compositionally adverb

Synonyms for composition


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web In an underground reservoir built 1,233 years ago in a city that saw sectarian riots last year, visitors hear a beguiling musical composition that combines Arab love songs with Hebrew poetry. New York Times, 23 July 2022 An important part of what data visceralization does—whether by walking an exhibition, riding a train while listening to a composition, or stitching in community—is create the space for audiences to take time to grieve. Wired, 22 July 2022 My friend and also tattoo artist Marlaina asked me to create a composition including leaves, flowers and berries for this placement on the side of her head. Lisa Boonestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2022 All of the photos were printed in a black and white composition -- a style Macilau continues to use. CNN, 7 July 2022 The best-selling men’s fragrances were historically and still are in the fougere family (defined as a classic composition that is clean, fresh and aromatic). Shelley E. Kohan, Forbes, 10 June 2022 This suite offers a 180-degree view and a composition of skylights that allow light to filter in from above. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 2 June 2022 Dean, an Australian who played viola in the Berlin Philharmonic before turning to composition full time, has total command of the orchestra. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 30 May 2022 One of them, which consists of a landscape painting by late 15th-century to early16th-century artist Josui Sōen, displays a composition that was built around an abstract accidental mark. Antonia Mufarech, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for composition

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near composition

composite sailing



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Last Updated

30 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for composition


com·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on composition

Nglish: Translation of composition for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of composition for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about composition


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