See also: composé


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From Middle English composen, from Old French composer (to compose, compound, adjust, settle), from com- + poser, as an adaptation of Latin componere (to put together, compose), from com- (together) + ponere (to put, place)



compose (third-person singular simple present composes, present participle composing, simple past and past participle composed)

  1. (transitive) To make something by merging parts. [from later 15th c.]
    The editor composed a historical journal from many individual letters.
    • December 22 1678, Thomas Sprat, A Sermon Preached before the King at White-Hall
      Zeal ought to be composed of the highest degrees of all pious affection.
  2. (transitive) To make up the whole; to constitute.
    A church is composed of its members.
    • 1741, I[saac] Watts, The Improvement of the Mind: Or, A Supplement to the Art of Logick: [], London: [] James Brackstone, [], OCLC 723474632:
      A few useful things [] compose their intellectual possessions.
  3. (transitive, nonstandard) To comprise.
  4. (transitive or intransitive) To construct by mental labor; to think up; particularly, to produce or create a literary or musical work.
    The orator composed his speech over the week prior.
    Nine numbered symphonies, including the Fifth, were composed by Beethoven.
    It's difficult to compose without absolute silence.
    • 1714, Alexander Pope, Imitation of Horace, Book II. Sat. 6
      Let me [] compose / Something in Verse as true as Prose.
    • 1838, Benjamin Haydon, Painting, and the fine arts
      the genius that composed such works as the "Standard" and "Last Supper"
  5. (sometimes reflexive) To calm; to free from agitation.
    Try to compose your thoughts.
    The defendant couldn't compose herself and was found in contempt.
    • 1697, “(please specify the book number)”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      Compose thy mind; / Nor frauds are here contrived, nor force designed.
  6. To arrange the elements of a photograph or other picture.
  7. To settle (an argument, dispute etc.); to come to a settlement.
    • 2010, Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22, Atlantic 2011, p. 280:
      By trying his best to compose matters with the mullahs, he had sincerely shown that he did not seek a violent collision []
  8. To arrange in proper form; to reduce to order; to put in proper state or condition.
  9. (printing, dated) To arrange (types) in a composing stick for printing; to typeset.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.




  1. first-person singular present indicative of composer
  2. third-person singular present indicative of composer
  3. first-person singular present subjunctive of composer
  4. third-person singular present subjunctive of composer
  5. second-person singular imperative of composer




  1. third-person singular past historic of comporre