Third Wednesday: Composition Won’t Replace Disposition

You may not run into one of today’s words unless you read a lot of historical fiction.  These days, we tend not to discuss someone’s disposition unless it is outside society’s norm.  But centuries ago, having a delicate disposition was the epitome of womanhood.  It meant you had enough money and status that you did not have to be strong enough to take care of yourself.  And believe me, some of those long-ago ladies milked the situation to their advantage.

As always, I’ve paraphrased the original sentence I ran across in a contemporary novel.

“Angelita’s delicate composition made her swoon at the mere mention of blood.”

Keeping it simple, Angelita exists as a composition of flesh, bones, and blood.  While her physical frame may certainly be delicate or slight, that will not cause her to swoon.  Her fainting spell will happen because her sensitive emotional awareness is offended or repelled by the unpleasantness of the thought or sight of blood.


Composition – the act of putting together or combining parts to make a whole; putting together words in an effective way; an arrangement of musical parts or art to create a whole.

The composition of concrete is incomplete without both sand and gravel.

Bach’s compositions are as vibrant and beloved today as they were in the moments he first performed them for royalty.


Disposition – one’s customary state of mind; one’s nature or temperament.

Mama’s disposition was voluble at the best and violent when things did not go her way.

If you have the disposition to handle ongoing stress, the emotional upheaval of lives in crisis, and long work hours, you may be suited for a career in the emergency room.


Here’s another look at Composition and Disposition.


Allen failed to mention the composition of his cat when he asked Terry to take care of Wicked for the weekend.

Cement is part of the disposition of concrete driveways.


I asked the local grocer about the exact composition of the new cereal he claimed was “all-natural” and healthy.

Claudia’s disposition is so sweet and amenable it makes your teeth ache.


Need a memory trick to distinguish these words?  A composition is something you have to put together, but you were probably born with the disposition you show the world.