late 14c., composicioun, "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," and directly from Latin compositionem (nominative compositio) "a putting together, connecting, arranging," noun of action from past participle stem of componere "to put together, to collect a whole from several parts," from com "with, together" (see com-) + ponere "to place" (past participle positus; see position (n.)).
Meaning "art of constructing sentences" is from 1550s; that of "literary production, that which results from composing" (often also "writing exercise for students") is from c. 1600. Meaning "orderly disposition" is from 1590s. Printing sense "the setting of type" is from 1832; meaning "arrangement of parts in a picture" is from 1706.
updated on February 17, 2018