com·​po·​si·​tion ˌkäm-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce composition (audio)
: the act or process of composing
specifically : arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form
the painting's unique composition
: the arrangement of type for printing
hand composition
: the production of type or typographic characters (as in photocomposition) arranged for printing
: the manner in which something is composed
: general makeup
the changing ethnic composition of the city's population
: the qualitative and quantitative makeup of a chemical compound
the chemical composition of a polymer
: mutual settlement or agreement
The two parties came to a composition.
: a product of mixing or combining various elements or ingredients
a composition of rubber and cork
: an intellectual creation: such as
: 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
: a written piece of music especially of considerable size and complexity
Her composition for piano and flute was played at the recital.
: the quality or state of being compound
: the operation of forming a composite function
ˌkäm-pə-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce composition (audio)
compositionally adverb

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 Climbing up some 80 feet, Ms. Murray uncovered vast diversity in soil composition – even in adjacent samples – revealing miniature ecosystems with abundant plant and invertebrate life that can support larger animals such as birds. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Sep. 2023 There’s the musical work—the lyrics and composition—and there’s the recording of that work. WIRED, 26 Sep. 2023 An analysis of board composition in companies in the S&P 500 index found that 88% have no cybersecurity expert as a director. James Rundle, WSJ, 25 Sep. 2023 Casey added that getting rid of legacy admissions won’t change the compositions of the nation’s most elite colleges overnight. Ramishah Maruf, CNN, 25 Sep. 2023 So, while the format of your conditioner may make a difference — for instance, a moisturizing conditioner might contain more oils and emollients to soften and smooth the hair — the composition of your typical post-shampooing conditioner doesn't change a whole lot from formula to formula. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, 25 Sep. 2023 The film’s accusatory fury is matched by Van Peebles’s distinctive style, which distills the action into precise and sharp-edged compositions of high graphic design. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2023 The Hairy Who, and Nutt’s work in particular, followed in impolite fashion, collapsing Old Master work and comic books, consumer advertisements and pin-up magazines, into luridly colored and rudely psychosexual compositions. Max Lakin, New York Times, 14 Sep. 2023 Another note: Always check the composition when shopping online. Kristina Rutkowski,, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'composition.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near composition

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


com·​po·​si·​tion ˌkäm-pə-ˈzish-ən How to pronounce composition (audio)
: the act or process of composing
: the manner in which the parts of a thing are put together : makeup
the composition of a painting
: the elements of a compound
the composition of rubber
: a product of combining ingredients : combination
a composition made of several different metals
: a literary, musical, or artistic production
especially : a short piece of writing done as a school exercise

Legal Definition


: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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