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I always pronounce "composite" as COM-posite when it is used as an adjective or a noun. But in some technical contexts as "alpha compositing" it is also used as a verb, and in this case I discovered myself reading out as com-POZ-ite. As a non-native speaker of English, I got unsure about the pronunciation, so I looked up in several dictionaries.

  • Merriam-Websters list (käm-ˈpä-zət) as the main pronunciation, and (ˈkäm-pə-zit) as "especially British".
  • dictionary.com, which uses Random House Unabridged dictionary as its main, lists (kuhm-poz-it) as the only pronunciation, so it seems stressing the second syllable is the norm in American English.
  • dictionary.com also has a British English dictionary when you scroll down, which is Collins English Dictionary. For the adjective and the noun, the given pronuncation is (ˈkɒmpəzɪt), and for the verb, they suggest (ˈkɒmpəˌzaɪt). I also checked the website of Collins dictionary, and when you scroll down, they do list (ˈkɒmpəˌzaɪt) as a pronunciation for the verb with a voice recording.
  • The online version of Oxford and Cambridge English dictionary doesn't have an entry of "composite" as a verb.
  • Wiktionary says (ˈkɒmpəzɪt) is the Canadian or "received" pronunciation and (kəmˈpɑzɪt) is the American pronunciation.

Gathering all these it seems it's okay to stick to (ˈkɒmpəzɪt) regardless of the type (verb, noun, etc.) of the word, but this way, isn't it a bit uncomfortable to pronounce with a suffix, like "compositing" as COM-positing?

I'm wondering how actual British English speakers pronounce this word as a verb. Collins dictionary is making things more confusing as they list (ˈkɒmpəˌzaɪt) as the pronunciation for the verb. It the word actually pronounced this way?

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    Please don't answer in comments. The question is straightforward: write an answer. Answers are not going to be straightforward, and comments are inappropriate for answers which are more involved.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 6 at 19:11
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    You are asking for the pronunciation of a term so specialist that it doesn't appear in two reputable standard British English dictionaries. There is clearly no accepted pronunciation outside the specialist field in which it is used. I would suggest that you address your question to that audience. You will probably find that it varies, as is common when speakers are small groups, isolated from one another.
    – David
    Mar 6 at 23:48
  • @AndrewLeach I think pointing out that the British business is irrelevant here was worth a comment. Too bad you deleted mine. I also remarked that the OP does not distinguish stress from pronunciation. which is also relevant. Although my comment may have contained what could be construed as an answer, it really wasn't.
    – Lambie
    Mar 7 at 17:10

2 Answers 2

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Judging by the rather rare examples that can be found online, your tendency of stressing the second syllable is consistent with how native British English speakers pronounce "composite" as a verb in technical contexts: /kəmˈpɒzɪt/.

  • Here's the phrase "chroma key compositing" in British English on Forvo.
  • British graphics expert Simon Ubsdell has a series of tutorials on compositing theory where you can hear him using it as a verb, with second-syllable stress.
  • UK-based game designer Grant Abbitt has a tutorial video on how to use a compositor where he uses the same stress pattern.

The only example I've encountered so far that doesn't use second-syllable stress for the verb is the Collins Dictionary recording you cited in the question. So even though there are other British pronunciations out there for the word in isolation, it's safe to say that some (not necessarily all) British English speakers use the pronunciation with second-syllable stress in the context you're asking about.

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    Dictionaries say that compositor is accented on the second syllable in British English, which is good evidence that composite also is. Mar 7 at 14:05
  • The verb to composite is stressed the same in British and American English. Also, stress and pronunciation are not the same thing at all. With the verb and noun, the stress is the same but the compo part would most likely differ.
    – Lambie
    Mar 7 at 17:07
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The OED gives:

composite, v.

Pronunciation: /kɒmpəˈzʌɪt/

Politics. transitive. To amalgamate (resolutions put before a party conference or Trades Union Congress) into one composite resolution.

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