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 both films, Jewison’s widescreen visions owe nothing to the usual practice of flat, proscenium composition. Armond White, National Review, 13 May 2022 The composition of the milk changes depending on the time of day, over the course of a feeding and over periods of time. Sushma Subramanian, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 Avery’s works, often reduced to simple form and filled with vibrant color, are a master class in composition, balance, and subtle subversion of traditional figure painting., 12 May 2022 Each station includes a high-quality reproduction of one of Marc Chagall’s works and encourages exploration of art principles such as color, composition, light and texture. cleveland, 6 May 2022 Two areas where much more work needs to be done are the fields of cinematography — just 7 percent of European TV cinematographers between 2015 and 2020 were women — and music composition, where only 5 percent of working professionals are female. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 May 2022 His pictures, most in black and white, came to be admired for their composition, insight and energy, which sometimes mimicked the kinetics of combat photography. New York Times, 2 May 2022 In terms of the lighting, the composition, and also, the biggest challenge, is to make sure the four-legged friends are also smiling at the same time and looking at you. Stephanie Petit,, 25 Apr. 2022 Their lyrical Afro-Brazilian composition, Spanish rhumba and driving tango have their roots in the romantic music of the old-world Mediterranean, Latin American and Jazz traditions. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Apr. 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

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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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Statistics for composition

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Composition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 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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