The word composition contains an array of meanings that differentiate from one another when used in different contexts. The most literal meaning of composition perhaps, would be from the word compose–the combination of a number of things which forms a whole. The act of combining things to one part is one deviation of this meaning. The other is related to the proportion of each element in a combination in relation to that combination. The latter is often used in science, such as when referring to the composition of chemicals. The definition of composition also plays an important role in the fields of art and literature. Composition can mean a piece of artwork, music, or literary work. Since a work of art or literature is often a combination of different elements, styles, or media, this definition is logically sound. In the field of linguistics, composition means the formation of words to create a compound word. In law, composition means when the creditors agrees to lower the payment value when a debtor is unable to return the amounts due for an immediate transaction.
The origin of the word composition came from the French word composicion in the late 14th century, which meant the act of putting things together. A similar meaning from the Latin word compositiõ, is also related to the etymology of composition. In the 1550s, “the art of sentence structure” was included to the definition. In the 1600s, composition also meant an essay, or a literary work. Finally, in 1706, the definition of composition was applied to visual arts, as the combination of elements in a picture or painting.
While the literal meanings of composition are rather straightforward and dull, it becomes more liberated when describing the expression of an idea, such as an artwork or an essay. With the injection of personal taste, we began to categorize composition into the good and bad side. For example, an artwork that is visually engaging and pleasing can be said to have a good composition. Eventually due to human nature of finding patterns, people began to develop guidelines for creating good composition. Composition now often describes how well and efficient each of the elements bond as a whole, either in an architectural structure or the structures of an essay. Of course, these guidelines of good or bad composition changes along with our cultural and social norm, therefore it is always hard to pin down a strict definition of what is accepted and what is not. Though one thing is for certain: works of art, music, and literature will always be a composition of different elements to engage the audience with its uttermost exciting mosaics.
butane, a chemical composition
composition. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/composition (accessed: November 20, 2012).
composition. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/composition (accessed: November 20, 2012).