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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 terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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