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[kuh m-pohz] /kəmˈpoʊz/
verb (used with object), composed, composing.
to make or form by combining things, parts, or elements:
He composed his speech from many research notes.
to be or constitute a part or element of:
a rich sauce composed of many ingredients.
to make up or form the basis of:
Style composes the essence of good writing.
to put or dispose in proper form or order:
to compose laws into a coherent system.
Art. to organize the parts or elements of (a picture or the like).
to create (a musical, literary, or choreographic work).
to end or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.):
The union and management composed their differences.
to bring (oneself, one's mind, etc.) to a condition of calmness, repose, etc.; calm; quiet.
  1. to set (type).
  2. to set type for (an article, book, etc.).
verb (used without object), composed, composing.
to engage in composition, especially musical composition.
to enter into composition; fall into an arrangement:
a scene that composes well.
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Middle French composer. See com-, pose1
Related forms
composable, adjective
uncomposable, adjective
Can be confused
compose, comprise (see usage note at comprise)
8. settle, collect. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for composing
  • With the tips in mind, take a stab at composing your own cover letter.
  • The photographer used the sweep of the dune to frame the plant and applied the rule of thirds in composing the landscape.
  • Keeping the horizon line-and overall scene-straight is an important rule of photography when composing for almost any landscape.
  • To this end, he invented a machine for composing map type photographically that ultimately improved overall type legibility.
  • composing music requires creativity and mental agility.
  • As for apes, they would hardly make headlines any more if they were found to be adept at composing limericks.
  • The cells composing them have more abundant protoplasm than the peripheral cells.
  • There are many reasons why you might not want to use the keyboard for composing text.
  • In due course a composing-room hand, routinely checking all ads for typographical errors, came to this one.
  • Where possible, these variations were taken into account in composing the graphic.
British Dictionary definitions for composing


verb (mainly transitive)
to put together or make up by combining; put in proper order
to be the component elements of
to produce or create (a musical or literary work)
(intransitive) to write music
to calm (someone, esp oneself); make quiet
to adjust or settle (a quarrel, etc)
to order the elements of (a painting, sculpture, etc); design
(printing) to set up (type)
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for composing



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
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