To compose is to put something together, like a song, poem, or even yourself. You might want to compose yourself before returning to the party after a good cry.

The word compose began with the Latin ponere, which means "to put, place," referring to placing or arranging any piece of work. It's been in the music business since the 1590s, and it's generally still used to describe the act of writing songs. But you can use it whenever you're pulling something together: you might compose an essay for English class, or notice that the class is composed of all girls.

Definitions of compose
  1. verb
    form the substance of
    “Greed and ambition composed his personality”
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    type of:
    be, comprise, constitute, make up, represent
    form or compose
  2. verb
    put together out of existing material
    synonyms: compile
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    cobble together, cobble up
    put together hastily
    anthologise, anthologize
    compile an anthology
    catalog, catalogue
    make a catalogue, compile a catalogue
    type of:
    make by shaping or bringing together constituents
  3. verb
    make up plans or basic details for
    synonyms: draw up, frame
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    type of:
    make plans for something
  4. verb
    write music
    “Beethoven composed nine symphonies”
    synonyms: write
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    write in counterpoint
    set to music
    write (music) for (a text)
    arrange, set
    adapt for performance in a different way
    write a musical score for
    melodise, melodize
    supply a melody for
    harmonise, harmonize
    write a harmony for
    instrument, instrumentate
    write an instrumental score for
    arrange beforehand
    put (a piece of music) into another key
    reharmonise, reharmonize
    provide with a different harmony
    realise, realize
    expand or complete (a part in a piece of baroque music) by supplying the harmonies indicated in the figured bass
    write an orchestra score for
    table, tabularise, tabularize, tabulate
    arrange or enter in tabular form
    type of:
    create, make
    make or cause to be or to become
  5. verb
    produce a literary work
    “She composed a poem”
    synonyms: indite, pen, write
    publish, write
    have (one's written work) issued for publication
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    write a legal document or paper
    write lyrics for (a song)
    write about, write of, write on
    write about a particular topic
    write about
    write paragraphs; work as a paragrapher
    write about in a paragraph
    write off
    write something fluently, and without hesitation
    dash off, fling off, knock off, scratch off, toss off
    write quickly
    rewrite so as to make fit to suit a new or different purpose
    write copy
    write for commercial publications
    adopt, dramatise, dramatize
    put into dramatic form
    draft, outline
    draw up an outline or sketch for something
    poetise, poetize, verse, versify
    compose verses or put into verse
    be the author of
    annotate, footnote
    add explanatory notes to or supply with critical comments
    cite, reference
    refer to
    write out, write up
    put into writing; write in complete form
    write a script for
    write new lyrics for (a song)
    compose in poetic meter
    spondaise, spondaize
    make spondaic
    elegise, elegize
    compose an elegy
    compose a sonnet
    be a co-author on (a book, a paper)
    ghost, ghostwrite
    write for someone else
    type of:
    create verbally
    create with or from words
  6. verb
    calm (someone, especially oneself); make quiet
    “She had to compose herself before she could reply to this terrible insult”
Commonly confused words

compose / comprise

Compose is to make up a whole, and comprise is to contain parts. Poodles compose the dog class because the class comprises poodles. The parts compose the whole, and the whole comprises the parts. Confused? Everybody else is!

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