a. The combining of distinct parts or elements to form a whole.
b. The manner in which such parts are combined or related.
c. General makeup: the changing composition of the electorate.
d. The result or product of composing; a mixture or compound.
2. Arrangement of artistic parts so as to form a unified whole.
a. The art or act of composing a musical or literary work.
b. A work of music, literature, or art, or its structure or organization.
4. A short essay, especially one written as an academic exercise.
5. Law A settlement whereby the creditors of a debtor about to enter bankruptcy agree, in return for some financial consideration, usually proffered immediately, to the discharge of their respective claims on receipt of payment which is in a lesser amount than that actually owed on the claim.
6. Linguistics The formation of compounds from separate words.
7. Printing Typesetting.
[Middle English composicioun, from Old French composition, from Latin compositiō, compositiōn-, from compositus, past participle of compōnere, to put together; see COMPONENT.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.