See more synonyms for compose on
verb (used with object), com·posed, com·pos·ing.
  1. to make or form by combining things, parts, or elements: He composed his speech from many research notes.
  2. to be or constitute a part or element of: a rich sauce composed of many ingredients.
  3. to make up or form the basis of: Style composes the essence of good writing.
  4. to put or dispose in proper form or order: to compose laws into a coherent system.
  5. Art. to organize the parts or elements of (a picture or the like).
  6. to create (a musical, literary, or choreographic work).
  7. to end or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.): The union and management composed their differences.
  8. to bring (oneself, one's mind, etc.) to a condition of calmness, repose, etc.; calm; quiet.
  9. Printing.
    1. to set (type).
    2. to set type for (an article, book, etc.).
verb (used without object), com·posed, com·pos·ing.
  1. to engage in composition, especially musical composition.
  2. to enter into composition; fall into an arrangement: a scene that composes well.

Origin of compose

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English word from Middle French word composer. See com-, pose1
Related formscom·pos·a·ble, adjectiveun·com·pos·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedcompose comprise

Synonyms for compose

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for compose

Contemporary Examples of compose

Historical Examples of compose

  • In the nearer ranks we may discern the variety of ingredients that compose the mass.

    Biographical Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It need hardly be said that in any case it was not Handel's practice to compose his works on an organ.


    Edward J. Dent

  • Little Dorrit was deeply anxious that he should lie down to compose himself.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Sometimes all the bells which compose a peal tell their various uses.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • A proof of each of the songs that I compose or amend I shall receive as a favour.

British Dictionary definitions for compose


verb (mainly tr)
  1. to put together or make up by combining; put in proper order
  2. to be the component elements of
  3. to produce or create (a musical or literary work)
  4. (intr) to write music
  5. to calm (someone, esp oneself); make quiet
  6. to adjust or settle (a quarrel, etc)
  7. to order the elements of (a painting, sculpture, etc); design
  8. printing to set up (type)

Word Origin for compose

C15: from Old French composer, from Latin compōnere to put in place; see component
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for compose

c.1400, compousen, from Old French composer "put together, arrange, write" a work (12c.), from com- "with" (see com-) + poser "to place," from Late Latin pausare "to cease, lay down," ultimately from Latin ponere "to put, place" (see position (n.)). Meaning influenced in Old French by componere (see composite). Musical sense is from 1590s. Related: Composed; composing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper