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[kom-puh-zish-uh n] /ˌkɒm pəˈzɪʃ ən/
the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.
the resulting state or product.
manner of being composed; structure:
This painting has an orderly composition.
makeup; constitution:
His moral composition was impeccable.
an aggregate material formed from two or more substances:
a composition of silver and tin.
a short essay written as a school exercise.
the act or process of producing a literary work.
an academic course for teaching the techniques of clear, expository writing.
the art of putting words and sentences together in accordance with the rules of grammar and rhetoric.
a piece of music.
the art of composing music.
Fine Arts. the organization or grouping of the different parts of a work of art so as to achieve a unified whole.
Grammar. the formation of compounds or derivatives: the composition of “aircraft” from “air” and “craft.”.
a settlement by mutual agreement.
an agreement or compromise, especially one by which a creditor or group of creditors accepts partial payment from a debtor.
a sum of money so paid.
  1. the setting up of type for printing.
  2. Also called pagination. the makeup of pages for printing.
Mathematics. the process of making a composite function of two given functions.
1350-1400; Middle English composicioun < Anglo-French < Latin compositiōn- (stem of compositiō), equivalent to composit(us) (see composite) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
compositional, adjective
compositionally, adverb
[kuh m-poz-i-tiv] /kəmˈpɒz ɪ tɪv/ (Show IPA),
compositively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for composition
  • No doubt, she might end up doing less work than a student who wrote a paper from scratch in my composition course.
  • One covers the underlying composition, as it were a literary work.
  • Such insight will allow scientists to deduce the moon's interior structure, composition, and its history.
  • To get better gas mileage, engineers are fussing with the structure and composition of tires.
  • By means of a study of the typography and the chemical composition of the paper, they ascertained it to be a fraud.
  • The rocks hold the plant in place and become part of the composition.
  • He starts with a focal point in the center, then builds a composition around it.
  • Robin has the visual counterpart to perfect pitch when it comes to color and composition.
  • Colour is an added element of design that needs such careful consideration in a composition.
  • The water droplets, composition, lighting all complimenting a fleeting moment.
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 Forms
compositional, adjective
Word Origin
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
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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
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composition in Technology

1. function composition.
2. typesetting.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Encyclopedia Article for composition

in ancient Germanic law, money given to a person who had been wronged or injured by the person responsible for the act. Composition arose among the Germanic peoples as an alternative to blood feud and personal vengeance. The amount paid was determined by a man's worth, or wer, which in turn was determined by his status in society. If he died, the money went to his family; in certain cases part went to the lord or king, as compensation for loss of a vassal. Although the right to composition and the amount paid originally arose out of an agreement between the parties involved, these issues were later settled by law. See also wergild.

Learn more about composition with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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