Definition of compose in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kəmˈpōz/


[with object]
1Write or create (a work of art, especially music or poetry): he composed the First Violin Sonata four years earlier
More example sentences
  • He also composed music, wrote poetry, had at least two books published and was a very accomplished artist.
  • Brahms had all but given up before tonight's works were composed, having written his will in 1891 and gone into a self-imposed retirement.
  • Next is a video journal of Crowe's preparations for the role, set to music largely composed by him.
write, formulate, devise, make up, think up, produce, invent, concoct;
pen, author, draft;
score, orchestrate, choreograph
1.1Write or phrase (a letter or piece of writing) with care and thought: the first sentence is so hard to compose
More example sentences
  • Your elderly letter writers who have a hard time composing a good letter are just out of luck unless they have an angel, eh?
  • There is a splendid tale of the latter, his pen dripping in irony and vitriol, composing a letter to the United board congratulating them on their ground improvements in the aftermath of his own promises to build a new stadium.
  • She has already raised £6,500 for the home by composing an appeal letter seeking donations for the hospice at Oxenhope.
1.2Form (a whole) by ordering or arranging the parts, especially in an artistic way: compose and draw a still life
More example sentences
  • Phillips first composes his arrangements using design software, then executes them in oils on rectangular canvases and circular panels.
  • She uses decoration deliberately, as a contextual strategy and artistic choice to compose her pictorial space.
  • The Chinese artists rather compose the final design from several blocks.
organize, arrange, set out
1.3Order or arrange (parts) to form a whole, especially in an artistic way: make an attempt to compose your images
2(Of elements) constitute or make up (a whole): the system is composed of a group of machines
More example sentences
  • In essence, what I found was that guerrilla warfare is composed of three elements.
  • Mineral crystal is glass, which is composed of several elements that aid in resisting scratches (it is seven times harder than acrylic crystal).
  • The driver's figure is composed of relatively few elements and, perched on a buckboard, seems diminutive in comparison to the neighboring group.
make up, constitute, form
2.1Be (a specified number or amount) of a whole: women compose 49 percent of that group
3Calm or settle (oneself or one’s features or thoughts): she tried to compose herself
More example sentences
  • He had recovered from his scare but the walking hadn't helped his struggle to compose himself.
  • I wipe the tears from my eyes and struggle to compose myself.
  • Even as he watched, she wiped a tear from her cheek, and visibly struggled to compose herself.
calm down, control oneself, regain one's composure, pull oneself together, collect oneself, steady oneself, keep one's head, relax
informal get a grip, take a chill pill, chillax, keep one's cool, cool one's jets, decompress
3.1 archaic Settle (a dispute): the king, with some difficulty, composed this difference
4Prepare (a text) for printing by manually, mechanically, or electronically setting up the letters and other characters in the order to be printed.
Example sentences
  • He built an electronic printing system that would allow business customers to compose documents on an online template.
  • Once pages were composed, therefore, there was very little time for proof-correction before they had to be printed off and the types reused.
4.1Set up (letters and characters) of a text in preparation for printing.


Late Middle English (in the general sense 'put together, construct'): from Old French composer, from Latin componere (see component), but influenced by Latin compositus 'composed' and Old French poser 'to place'.

Words that rhyme with compose

appose, arose, Bose, brose, chose, close, diagnose, self-diagnose, doze, enclose, expose, foreclose, froze, hose, impose, interpose, juxtapose, Montrose, noes, nose, oppose, plainclothes, pose, propose, prose, rose, suppose, those, transpose, underexpose, uprose

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·pose

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.