verb con·sti·tute \ ˈkän(t)-stə-ˌtüt , -ˌtyüt \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of constitute

constituted; constituting
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.

Examples of constitute in a Sentence

  1. Women constitute 70 percent of the student population at the college.

  2. nine players constitute a baseball team

Recent Examples of constitute from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of constitute

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

CONSTITUTE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of constitute for English Language Learners

  • : 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.)

CONSTITUTE Defined for Kids


verb con·sti·tute \ ˈkän-stə-ˌtüt , -ˌtyüt \

Definition of constitute for Students

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

Law Dictionary


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 legatees
  • Louisiana Civil Code
  • legal authority constitutes all magistrates
2 : establish, found
  • to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court
  • U.S. Constitution art. I
3 a : 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

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


very hard to disturb or upset

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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