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.

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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 Second, and more fundamentally, the question of what falls under the aegis of ESG in the first place is too vague to constitute a meaningful boundary for policy-making. Richard Morrison, National Review, "When ‘Voluntary’ Becomes Obligatory — Regulatory Creep and the SEC," 12 May 2021 This is not to be confused with what used to constitute dinner: a few olives, some chickpeas straight from the can, and a piece of old Halloween candy. Nicky Guerreiro, The New Yorker, "Emily Post’s Post-Pandemic Etiquette," 10 May 2021 And in many cases, what looks like a cost may turn out in the long run to constitute a kind of benefit. Washington Post, "Let’s face it, we all have the capacity to be mean. ‘Spite’ explores why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.," 28 Apr. 2021 And shootings don't have to be racially motivated to constitute a hate crime in Georgia. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Some officials call for hate crime charges in the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left 8 dead," 19 Mar. 2021 The judge decided that this behavior was not ugly enough to constitute a hostile workplace. New York Times, "30 Years After Anita Hill, We Should All Know What Sexual Harassment Is," 19 Mar. 2021 Unrealized capital gains have been estimated to constitute 55% of the value of estates worth more than $100 million. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Countering Dem relief package, GOP proposes a huge giveaway to the rich," 10 Mar. 2021 By 2017, government transfer payments rose to constitute more than 91% of their $49,613 average income. Phil Gramm And Pat Toomey, WSJ, "Trump’s Protectionist Failure," 2 Mar. 2021 One person, or a couple of people, just aren't meant to constitute our entire social support system. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "The Pandemic Erased 'Weak Tie' Relationships — and Our Close Ones Are Suffering," 18 Feb. 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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Statistics for constitute

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Constitute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for constitute



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

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