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Borrowed 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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bishop Sprat
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) I. Watts
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      Let me compose / Something in verse as well as prose.
    • (Can we date this quote?) B. R. Haydon
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      In a peaceful grave my corpse compose.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      How in safety best we may / Compose our present evils.
  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. third-person singular past historic of comporre