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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web It is then painted with layers of enamel and fired in a kiln, resulting in a colorful, 3D composition. Carol Besler, Robb Report, "The Dial as Canvas: 5 Artists Who Turned High-End Watches Into Paintings That Tick," 27 Apr. 2021 Among other steps, the City Council will need to approve an ordinance that will dictate the composition and functions of the commission, including its investigative powers. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego moves forward with process to fully implement new police commission," 26 Apr. 2021 The statehood push is ultimately a power grab to change the Senate’s partisan composition—a procedural escalation that hasn’t been tried since states were admitted along partisan lines in the 19th century. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The D.C. Statehood Gambit," 21 Apr. 2021 The message for Chief Financial Officers is that the composition of credit matters: not only the amount of debt but the type of debt. Effi Benmelech, Forbes, "Bonds. Corporate Bonds.," 18 Apr. 2021 By analyzing these particles from afar, researchers have managed to learn about the comet’s composition, its origins, and its long journey here. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Most Melancholy Comet We’ve Ever Seen," 6 Apr. 2021 Her interests include everything from dancing and playing guitar to song composition, creative writing, and doodling., "With original art, teen Scholastic Awards winners tune into suffering and uncertainty," 4 Apr. 2021 Overall, any Ferguson Effect is constrained largely to cities with historically high levels of violence, a large composition of black residents, and socioeconomic disadvantages. Emma Tucker And Peter Nickeas, CNN, "The US saw significant crime rise across major cities in 2020. And it's not letting up," 3 Apr. 2021 The index takes into consideration socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, languages, housing type and transportation in vulnerable communities. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Cherry blossom crowds, roller coaster return, farmworker fears: News from around our 50 states," 2 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for composition

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for composition

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for composition



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 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

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