con·​sti·​tute | \ ˈkän(t)-stə-ˌtüt How to pronounce constitute (audio) , -ˌtyüt \
constituted; constituting

Definition of constitute

transitive verb

1 : make up, form, compose 12 months constitute a year. … high school dropouts who constitute a major problem in large city slums.— J. B. Conant
2 : set up, establish: such as
a : enact regulations as are constituted by the government
b : found constitute a provisional government
c(1) : to give due or lawful form to an agreement constituted by writing
(2) : to legally process
3 : to appoint to an office, function, or dignity Legal authority constitutes all magistrates.

Synonyms for constitute


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Examples of constitute in a Sentence

Women constitute 70 percent of the student population at the college. nine players constitute a baseball team
Recent Examples on the Web These constitute almost 8% of the average American’s household budget but, as with food, a much higher part of the expenditures of poorer individuals and families. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 Diversion programs do not constitute discipline, according to the Supreme Court rules. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Oct. 2021 In fact, the somatosensory neurons that make all these sensations possible constitute the largest sensory system in mammals. Quanta Magazine, 4 Oct. 2021 Given the second-year persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic, this fall’s festival will, like last year’s, constitute a hybrid with some in-person screenings and many virtual offerings. Michael Phillips,, 27 Aug. 2021 Other religious groups, such as Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, constitute less than 0.3 percent of the population, according to the State Department report. NBC News, 22 Aug. 2021 In fact, as Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his eulogy, women now constitute a majority of the students at American law schools. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 10 Aug. 2021 Homicides also constitute a tiny percent of overall major crime, which last year continued to drop as theft and burglaries fell. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2021 These obstacles, impediments, and bumps in the road constitute a strategic friction for you or your organization—slowing you down and wearing you out. Kris Putnam-walkerly, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'constitute.' 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 constitute

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for constitute

Middle English, from Latin constitutus, past participle of constituere to set up, constitute, from com- + statuere to set — more at statute

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Time Traveler for constitute

Time Traveler

The first known use of constitute was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near constitute

constituta pecunia



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Last Updated

5 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Constitute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of constitute

: to make up or form something
: to be the same as something : to be equivalent to something
: to establish or create (an organization, a government, etc.)


con·​sti·​tute | \ ˈkän-stə-ˌtüt How to pronounce constitute (audio) , -ˌtyüt \
constituted; constituting

Kids Definition of constitute

1 : to form the whole of Twelve months constitute a year.
2 : to establish or create constitute a new government


transitive verb
con·​sti·​tute | \ ˈkän-stə-ˌtüt, -ˌtyüt How to pronounce constitute (audio) \

Legal Definition of constitute

1 : to appoint to an office or function those who are constituted heirs or named legateesLouisiana Civil Code legal authority constitutes all magistrates
2 : establish, found to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme CourtU.S. Constitution art. I
3a : to put (as an agreement) into required form
b : to qualify as a letter can constitute a will— W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al. failure to act may constitute negligence
c : to form the substance or whole of the bonds constituted the entire estate

More from Merriam-Webster on constitute

Nglish: Translation of constitute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of constitute for Arabic Speakers


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