[kom-puh-zish-uh n]


Origin of composition

1350–1400; Middle English composicioun < Anglo-French < Latin compositiōn- (stem of compositiō), equivalent to composit(us) (see composite) + -iōn- -ion
Related formscom·po·si·tion·al, adjectivecom·po·si·tion·al·ly, adverbcom·pos·i·tive [kuh m-poz-i-tiv] /kəmˈpɒz ɪ tɪv/, adjectivecom·pos·i·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for composition

Contemporary Examples of composition

  • John Luther Adams lives up to the title of his composition, capturing an oceanic torrent of sound in an awe-inspiring performance.

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    The Best Albums of 2014

    Ted Gioia

    December 13, 2014

  • He described in painful detail the composition of the bars and the heavy shackles on the pad locks.

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    I Shot Bin Laden

    Elliot Ackerman

    November 16, 2014

  • He approaches the composition of a painting rather as a theatrical director might set the scene of a play.

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    The Stacks: Edward Hopper’s X-Ray Vision

    Hilton Kramer

    October 25, 2014

  • However, its composition and interior are very different than the Moon.

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    A Cloud Forms Over Saturn’s Mysterious Moon

    Matthew R. Francis

    August 17, 2014

  • Tupac himself ventured a rather eloquent answer in his composition, “Me Against the World.”

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    Broadway Was Made for Tupac

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Marcyliena Morgan

    July 7, 2014

Historical Examples of composition

British Dictionary definitions for composition



the act of putting together or making up by combining parts or ingredients
something formed in this manner or the resulting state or quality; a mixture
the parts of which something is composed or made up; constitution
a work of music, art, or literature
the harmonious arrangement of the parts of a work of art in relation to each other and to the whole
a piece of writing undertaken as an academic exercise in grammatically acceptable writing; an essay
printing the act or technique of setting up type
linguistics the formation of compound words
logic the fallacy of inferring that the properties of the part are also true of the whole, as every member of the team has won a prize, so the team will win a prize
  1. a settlement by mutual consent, esp a legal agreement whereby the creditors agree to accept partial payment of a debt in full settlement
  2. the sum so agreed
chem the nature and proportions of the elements comprising a chemical compound
Derived Formscompositional, adjective

Word Origin for composition

C14: from Old French, from Latin compositus; see composite, -ion
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 composition

late 14c., "action of combining," also "manner in which a thing is composed," from Old French composicion (13c., Modern French composition) "composition, make-up, literary work, agreement, settlement," from Latin compositionem (nominative compositio) "a putting together, connecting, arranging," noun of action from past participle stem of componere (see composite). Meaning "art of constructing sentences" is from 1550s; that of "literary production" (often also "writing exercise for students") is from c.1600. Printing sense is 1832; meaning "arrangement of parts in a picture" is from 1706.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper