Definition of compost in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkämˌpōst/


1Decayed organic material used as a plant fertilizer.
Example sentences
  • Mulch with an organic material such as compost or alfalfa hay.
  • Amend soil regularly with compost and apply organic mulches continually to enrich your soil.
  • There is no fertilizer better than compost, and you can make it yourself for free!
1.1A mixture of decayed organic material with loam and/or other ingredients, used as a growing medium.
Example sentences
  • With the gardening season now getting into full swing, the trust is urging people to only use peat-free composts in their gardens.
  • In the croft garden we always use peat-free composts and prefer those made from composted bark.
  • Gardening is our fastest growing pastime and the demand for composts is greater than ever - still largely met by commercial peat extraction.


[with object]
1Make (vegetable matter or manure) into compost: don’t compost heavily infested plants
More example sentences
  • You can compost fruits, vegetables, tea bags and coffee grounds, as well as leaf and yard waste.
  • During the composting season, check your bin regularly to assure optimum moisture and aeration are present in the material being composted.
  • At this time of year it's also important to regularly remove dead flowers and leaves from plants and then compost this material for later return of the nutrients to the beds.
1.1Treat (soil) with compost: we turned clay soil into almost workable soil by composting it
More example sentences
  • When planting tulip or daffodil bulbs in a formal display it pays to make sure that the soil has been well composted and forked over beforehand.
  • They like shade and composted soil and plenty of water.
  • He saw how well the tomatoes flourished in that dark composted soil.



Pronunciation: /ˈkämˌpōstəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • There are much better things to do with compostable material.
  • Nationally we will be increasing the waste going to landfill in direct opposition to the EU requirements to reduce compostable waste going to landfill.
  • Councillors also gave a new green bin scheme for collecting compostable waste the go-ahead.


Example sentences
  • Some composters find that mixing the two together is more effective than layering.
  • But by tilling them directly into the soil, Susan saves a trip to the composter and her soil's ready by spring.
  • Some home composters sell their finished compost to local nurseries or other family gardeners.


Late Middle English: from Old French composte, from Latin composita, compositum 'something put together', feminine and neuter past participle of componere.

  • Garden compost and fruit compôte do not seem to have much in common, but they both derive from French compôte ‘stewed fruit’. This comes from Old French composte, from Latin compositum ‘something put together’—source of compose (Late Middle English) and decompose (mid 18th century), composition (Late Middle English), and component (mid 17th century). Compost has been used in the gardening sense since the late 16th century. The Latin word was formed from com- ‘with’ and the irregular verb ponere ‘put, place’. From this we also get impose (Late Middle English) ‘place (up)on’; oppose (Late Middle English) ‘place against’; positive and posture (late 16th century); preposition (Late Middle English) something put in front, and suppose (Middle English) literally something placed from below.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·post

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.