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From Old French composicion, from Latin compositiō.



composition (plural compositions)

  1. The proportion of different parts to make a whole. [from 14th c.]
  2. The general makeup of something. [from 14th c.]
  3. (obsolete) An agreement or treaty used to settle differences; later especially, an agreement to stop hostilities; a truce. [14th-19th c.]
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I.40:
      It will stoope and yeeld upon better compositions to him that shall make head against it.
    • 1630, John Smith, True travels, in Kupperman 1988, p. 50:
      with an incredible courage they advanced to the push of the Pike with the defendants, that with the like courage repulsed [...], that the Turks retired and fled into the Castle, from whence by a flag of truce they desired composition.
  4. (obsolete) An agreement to pay money in order to clear a liability or obligation; a settling. [16th-19th c.]
    • 1745, Edward Young, Night-Thoughts, II:
      Insidious death! should his strong hand arrest, / No composition sets the prisoner free.
  5. (law) an agreement or compromise by which a creditor or group of creditors accepts partial payment from a debtor.
  6. A mixture or compound; the result of composing. [from 16th c.]
  7. An essay. [from 16th c.]
  8. (linguistics) The formation of compound words from separate words. [from 16th c.]
  9. A work of music, literature or art. [from 17th c.]
    • 1816, Jane Austen A letter dated 8 September 1818:
      ...and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard words, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb.
  10. (printing) typesetting. [from 19th c.]
  11. (mathematics) Applying a function to the result of another.
  12. (obsolete) Consistency; accord; congruity.
    • Shakespeare
      There is no composition in these news / That gives them credit.
  13. Synthesis as opposed to analysis.
    • Sir Isaac Newton
      The investigation of difficult things by the method of analysis ought ever to precede the method of composition.


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