Studying vocabularies, I am very confused about the meaning of those words. In the view of a learner, those seem very similar to me, but I cannot find the relation of them. Is there any relationship between those words, or they have independent meanings?

  • There's quite a bit about this in etymonline. To a first approximation though, pose = to put, place in position. How much do you already know, and what exactly is confusing you? Nov 22, 2015 at 14:58
  • They all came from French according to Etymology Online Dictionary. They have completely different meanings. You need to study and learn them by looking up the dictionary and reading their usages. Please visit our help center.
    – user140086
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:02
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    First you need to dispose of the notion that similar looking words have similar meanings. It is often the case that this is true, but usually there are at least nuances to individual words that are not obvious from the Greek/Latin/French/German/Norse roots. And there are some notable cases where assuming similar spelling ==> similar meaning can lead you badly astray. Use similar spellings as a clue, but use a dictionary as well.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


POSE = TO PUT, from Old French (actually contemporary french "poser" is still valid).

when posing you are in a position that you have put yourself into. when exposing you are placing something for public view. when imposing you are forcibly placing something/some idea. when composing you are placing various words/sounds together.

According to THE Merriam Webster dictionary:

"Origin of POSE Middle English, from Anglo-French poser, from Vulgar Latin *pausare, from Late Latin, to stop, rest, pause, from Latin pausa pause First Known Use: 14th century

Origin of EXPOSE Middle English, from Anglo-French exposer, from Latin exponere to set forth, explain (perfect indicative exposui), from ex- + ponere to put, place — more at position First Known Use: 15th century

Origin of IMPOSE Middle French imposer, from Latin imponere, literally, to put upon (perfect indicative imposui), from in- + ponere to put — more at position First Known Use: 1581

Origin of COMPOSE Middle English, from Anglo-French composer, from Latin componere (perfect indicative composui) — more at compound First Known Use: 15th century"

  • 2
    Great. Another driveby downvoter, a plague on this site.
    – deadrat
    Nov 22, 2015 at 20:21
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    Please improve this answer by explicitly noting the prefixes ex- (out), im- (in, on), and com- (with). Point out other words in this lineage -- depose, repose, suppose, as well any that don't, like adipose. Be sure to note that the etymology gives an understanding of the development of the word, but isn't dispositive (See what I did there?) of meaning. For instance, when a lawyer deposes you, you have to understand what is put down are your words, in writing.
    – deadrat
    Nov 22, 2015 at 20:29

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