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Composed vs. Observing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 3, 2023
"Composed" means being calm and in control of oneself, while "Observing" refers to the action of watching or noticing something.

Key Differences

"Composed" and "Observing" are English terms with distinct meanings and uses, though both can be applied to human behavior and actions. When someone is described as "Composed," it typically signifies that they maintain a calm demeanor, especially in stressful or challenging situations. Such individuals can control their emotions and reactions, showcasing a level-headed nature.
On the other hand, the term "Observing" relates more to an action than a state of being. Someone who is "Observing" is actively watching, noticing, or paying attention to something. This term can be used in various contexts, such as scientific studies, casual settings, or while learning. An Observing individual is keenly aware of their surroundings and often absorbs details others might overlook.
While "Composed" is an adjective that portrays a person's temperament, "Observing" is a verb (or an adjective derived from that verb) indicating an action or behavior. It's entirely possible for someone to be both Composed and Observing. Such an individual would remain calm and controlled while also being alert and attentive to their environment.
In summation, "Composed" is about internal self-regulation and emotional stability, whereas "Observing" is an external act of paying attention or taking note. While they can coexist in a person, their inherent meanings are distinct.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Verb (or adjective derived from the verb)


State of being
Action or behavior


Person's temperament or demeanor
Act of watching, noticing, or paying attention

Contextual Use

Emotional state, self-regulation
Scientific studies, learning, casual settings


Agitated, discomposed
Overlooking, ignoring

Composed and Observing Definitions


Having one's feelings and expressions under control.
She looked Composed, even after hearing the bad news.


Watching or noticing something.
She was Observing the birds in their natural habitat.


Created or written (as in music or literature).
He Composed a beautiful symphony that moved the audience.


Following or adhering to rules or customs.
They were strictly Observing the traditions of their ancestors.


Free from agitation.
His Composed demeanor was reassuring.


Celebrating or acknowledging an event.
They were Observing the national holiday with great enthusiasm.


Calm and in control of oneself.
Despite the pressure, he remained Composed throughout the presentation.


To be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention; notice
Observed a car leaving the property.


Formed by putting various things together.
The team was Composed of experts from different fields.


To watch attentively
Observe a child's behavior.


Serenely self-possessed; calm
The speaker remained composed even when heckled.


To make a systematic or scientific observation of
Observe the orbit of a comet.


Showing composure.


To say casually; remark
"'It's nice to have somebody to wait on you,' she observed, with a laugh" (Upton Sinclair).


Simple past tense and past participle of compose


To adhere to or abide by; comply with
Observe the terms of a contract.


Free from agitation; calm; sedate; quiet; tranquil; self-possessed.
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,Composed his posture, and his look sedate.


To act in acknowledgment of (a holiday, for example); keep or celebrate
Observe an anniversary.


Made up of individual elements;
If perception is seen as composed of isolated sense data...


To maintain (silence or a period of silence), as out of respect for someone who has died.


Serenely self-possessed and free from agitation especially in times of stress;
The performer seemed completely composed as she stepped onto the stage
I felt calm and more composed than I had in a long time


To take notice
Stood by the window observing.


To say something; make a comment or remark
Observed upon the unusual weather.


To watch or be present without participating actively
We were invited to the conference solely to observe.


Present participle of observe




Giving particular attention; habitually attentive to what passes; observant{1}; as, an observing person; an observing mind.


Quick to notice; showing quick and keen perception


Making a remark or comment.
Observing his dedication, she complimented his work ethic.


Being aware of and attentive to.
By Observing market trends, he made sound investments.


Does Observing always involve visual watching?

No, it can also refer to noticing through other senses or acknowledging events.

Can "Observing" refer to following traditions?

Yes, "Observing" can mean adhering to customs or rules.

Can someone be both Composed and Observing?

Absolutely, a person can be calm (Composed) while actively noticing (Observing).

Can a poem be Composed?

Yes, a poem can be written or created, thus Composed.

Can a piece of music be described as Composed?

Yes, if someone created it, it's "Composed."

If someone is Observing a diet, what does it mean?

It means they are following or adhering to specific dietary rules.

Is "Composed" always about emotional control?

Primarily, yes, but it can also describe something formed by combining elements.

What's the opposite of being Composed?

Being agitated or discomposed.

Can a team be Composed of various people?

Yes, in this context, "Composed" means formed by putting together.

What's another term for Observing a holiday?

Celebrating or acknowledging a holiday.

Does Observing always involve deep attention?

While Observing often involves attention, it can vary in intensity.

Is being Composed a positive trait?

Generally, being Composed is seen as positive as it indicates emotional control.

What might a Composed reaction to bad news look like?

A calm demeanor without extreme emotional displays.

Is Observing a skill?

Yes, especially in contexts where attention to detail is crucial.

Can Observing be passive?

Typically, Observing is an active process, but one can passively observe too.

Is "Composed" only used for people?

Mostly, but it can also describe how things, like teams or music, are formed.

Can a situation make someone feel less Composed?

Yes, stressful or unexpected situations can challenge one's composure.

Is there a difference between seeing and Observing?

Yes, seeing is passive, while Observing involves active attention or noticing.

Can someone be Observing without understanding?

Yes, one can notice things (Observing) without fully understanding them.

Can an artwork be described as Composed?

Yes, if the elements of the artwork are intentionally arranged.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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