• (British) IPA: /ˌkɒmpəˈzɪʃən/


  1. The act of putting together; assembly.
  2. A mixture or compound; the result of composing. [from 16th c.]
  3. The proportion of different parts to make a whole. [from 14th c.]
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Exodus 30:37,
      And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.
  4. The general makeup of a thing or person. [from 14th c.]
    • c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act II, Scene 1,
      John of Gaunt. O how that name befits my composition!
      Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old:
      Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast;
      And who abstains from meat that is not gaunt?
    • 1932, Frank Richards, The Magnet - Bunter's Night Out
      It seemed that the milk of human kindness had not been left out of his composition.
  5. (obsolete) An agreement or treaty used to settle differences; later especially, an agreement to stop hostilities; a truce. [14th-19th c.]
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 40, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book I, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      It will stoope and yeeld upon better compositions to him that shall make head against it.
    • 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 1-3
      If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to composition with the king of Hungary, why then all the dukes fall upon the king.
    • c. 1605, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scene 2,
      That now
      Sweno, the Norways’ king, craves composition:
      Nor would we deign him burial of his men
      Till he disbursed at Saint Colme’s inch
      Ten thousand dollars to our general use.
    • 1630, John Smith, True travels, in Kupperman 1988, p.50:
      with an incredible courage they advanced to the push of the Pike with the defendants, that with the like courage repulsed […], that the Turks retired and fled into the Castle, from whence by a flag of truce they desired composition.
    • 1754, David Hume, The History of England, London: T. Cadell, 1773, Volume I, p. 8,
      […] the Britons, by rendering the war thus bloody, seemed determined to cut off all hopes of peace or composition with the enemy.
  6. (obsolete) A payment of money in order to clear a liability or obligation; a settling or fine. [16th-19th c.]
    • c. 1602, William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene 3,
      He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in Florence, of a most chaste renown; and this night he fleshes his will in the spoil of her honour: he hath given her his monumental ring, and thinks himself made in the unchaste composition.
    • 1688, Parliament of England, Toleration Act 1688, section 3:
      That all and every person and persons already convicted or prosecuted in order to conviction of recusancy […] shall be thenceforth exempted and discharged from all the penalties, seizures, forfeitures, judgments, and executions, incurred by force of any of the aforesaid Statutes, without any composition, fee, or further charge whatsoever.
    • 1745, Edward Young, Night-Thoughts, II:
      Insidious death! should his strong hand arrest, / No composition sets the prisoner free.
  7. (legal) an agreement or compromise by which a creditor or group of creditors accepts partial payment from a debtor.
  8. An essay. [from 16th c.]
  9. (linguistics) The formation of compound words from separate words. [from 16th c.]
  10. A work of music, literature or art. [from 17th c.]
    • 1818, Jane Austen, A letter dated 8 September 1818:
      […] and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard words, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb.
  11. (printing) Typesetting. [from 19th c.]
  12. (mathematics) Applying a function to the result of another.
  13. (physics) The compounding of two velocities or forces into a single equivalent velocity or force.
  14. (obsolete) Consistency; accord; congruity.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Othello, Act I, Scene 3,
      There is no composition in these news
      That gives them credit.
  15. Synthesis as opposed to analysis.
    • The investigation of difficult things by the method of analysis ought ever to precede the method of composition.
  16. (painting, photography) The arrangement and flow of elements in a picture.
  17. (object-oriented programming) Way to combine simple objects or data types into more complex ones.
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