con·sti·tute | \ˈkän(t)-stə-ˌtüt, -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.

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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

For instance, what constitutes handball is clearly outlined, but how it is interpreted when assessing in-game scenarios is unique to the individual., "Why VAR is a Step in the Right Direction for Football Despite the Continued Scrutiny," 12 July 2018 Such actions constitute an obstruction of justice and improper influence on a witness. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump and what the Starr Report says about impeachment, annotated," 11 July 2018 Mr Chomsky has changed his mind repeatedly on what constitutes the core of human language, but one obvious candidate is syntax—rules, not just words, which allow the construction of a huge variety of meaningful utterances. The Economist, "What Koko the gorilla could and couldn’t do," 5 July 2018 Disagreement over what constitutes oldtime music – traditional dance tunes like Appalachian bluegrass or the elaborate Texas style – has driven a wedge between musicians at Weiser. Dean Paton, The Christian Science Monitor, "Finding common ground at a fiddlers' festival in Idaho," 22 June 2018 Although states generally license trainers, most don't require fighters to have them or spell out exactly what constitutes training. The Courier-Journal, "Danger in the cage: Lax regulation in amateur MMA puts lives at risk," 21 June 2018 These units, although small and unpretentious facilities within a hospital, seldom exceeding eight beds, constitute a major therapeutic innovation in dealing with the inordinate mortality from heart attacks. Daniel C. Schlenoff, Scientific American, "“Foul Treachery” of Trotsky and Lenin in 1918; Phineas Gage’s Brain in 1868," 13 July 2018 First-generation students constituted roughly 46 percent of the total freshman and transfer admissions for the fall, officials said. Lauren Hernandez,, "UC admits record number of transfer students for fall," 12 July 2018 This might ultimately mean that such data is safe from companies like Cambridge Analytica, but the software still constitutes a violation of privacy. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Facebook Is Still Abusing Your Privacy," 11 July 2018

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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Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for constitute

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

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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, -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 \

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

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Comments on constitute

What made you want to look up constitute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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