Definition of combination in US English:



  • 1A joining or merging of different parts or qualities in which the component elements are individually distinct.

    ‘this color combination is stunningly effective’
    ‘a combination of blackberries, raspberries, and rhubarb’
    • ‘It is the combination of these two reactions that allows the ozone layer to protect the planet.’
    • ‘Each stage is a combination of natural processes and human intervention, requiring patience, knowledge, discernment and flair.’
    • ‘Most children get the right amount of fluoride through a combination of fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water or supplements.’
    • ‘He said it was crucial to study the uplands because they had a distinct combination of agriculture, landscape, tourism, plus artistic and cultural inspiration.’
    • ‘We've found that your particular combination of qualities is rare - only 2 in 10,000 people share the same general mix of traits.’
    • ‘In short, everyone would have a similar combination of empowerment and quality of life benefits.’
    • ‘The name comes from a 19th century combination of cata (from the Greek for down, kata) and ion.’
    • ‘The diagram shows, for instance, that the combination of hot and cold produces the element of air and the humour of blood.’
    • ‘Each responds to a distinct combination of built form, architectural circumstance and institutional activity.’
    • ‘To analyze the data we employed a combination of qualitative and simple quantitative techniques.’
    • ‘The combination of top quality performance and the ambience of the concerts has produced evenings of great enjoyment both musically and socially.’
    • ‘This has come about through a combination of two processes.’
    • ‘A perfect game requires a perfect combination of skill, concentration, and luck.’
    • ‘He displayed a winning combination of size, shape, definition and poise.’
    • ‘The invention also relates to the use of the above-mentioned flame retardant combination, especially in thermoplastic polymers.’
    • ‘The process is a combination of computer-aided engineering and experimental methods.’
    • ‘Different individuals will prefer different combinations of work and leisure.’
    • ‘An artist may use a combination of processes to create an original print.’
    • ‘He made it over two months from a combination of processes involving painting and cut-and-paste images, using a crackled paint effect to make it look old.’
    • ‘Toilet training is a combination of several developmental processes.’
    • ‘The show has been packing halls around the country with its combination of top quality characters, high production and sheer entertainment.’
    amalgamation, amalgam, merger, union, blend, mixture, mix, mingling, meld, fusion, fusing, compound, alloy, marriage, weave, coalescence, coalition, pooling, integration, conjunction, incorporation, synthesis, composite, composition, concoction
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    1. 1.1 The process of combining different parts or qualities or the state of being combined.
      ‘these four factors work together in combination’
      • ‘The twinport petrol engines achieve reductions in fuel consumption by using a variable intake manifold in combination with high rates of exhaust gas recirculation.’
      • ‘In combination there is something even beyond, that joins the three in harmony.’
      • ‘Artificial tooth supports surgically set in the jaw are used in combination with bridges, dentures and crowns to replace any number of missing teeth.’
      • ‘Most scientists working with the new inhibitors and monoclonal antibody treatments acknowledge they will be used in combination with chemotherapy for years yet.’
      • ‘In most countries, rubella vaccine is administered in combination with measles and mumps vaccine to children as part of their immunisation schedule.’
      • ‘But now the boots are back, often but not always in combination with a miniskirt, and they are certainly harder to combine with the jeans.’
      • ‘The therapy involves heated, very smooth stones being rubbed into your back, arms and legs in combination with traditional Swedish massage techniques.’
      • ‘These strategies must be used in combination: users will leave if the content is good but hard to find, or if it's easy to find but offers only empty calories.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, two events occurred recently which, had they happened in isolation, would probably not have resulted in such a seismic shift in my world view as they did in combination.’
      • ‘But I thought that it was important, because I saw that many of these problems had to be dealt with in combination with other countries.’
      • ‘It carries a strong earthy flavour and can be used in combination with wheat flour.’
      • ‘Power foods are a convenient pick-me-up and are good for you when used in combination with a wholesome diet of fruit, vegetable, grains, and proteins.’
      • ‘Or use in combination with other sun-loving annuals or perennials.’
      • ‘You are extroverted and strong-willed, which, in combination means you are good with people and aren't willing to let opportunity pass you by.’
      • ‘The artist's technique involves the use of digital photography in combination with graphic designs and the exhibition is slated to begin on March 17.’
      • ‘In spite of all this, there is something about Shakespeare and something about performance without walls; in combination, they make magic.’
      • ‘But they said the ‘kicker’ was that the carbohydrates needed to be eaten in combination with little or no protein.’
      • ‘The number of bumps on each wheel in combination with the rotational speed determined the pitch produced by a particular tone wheel assembly.’
      • ‘Really nothing more I can add to that except used in combination with your pillow its dead handy for wrapping bottles/breakables in your suitcase.’
      • ‘By the same token, certain ingredients used in combination capture benefits not achievable when used alone.’
      cooperation, collaboration, concert, synergy, association, union, alliance, partnership, coalition, league
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    2. 1.2 An arrangement of elements.
      ‘the canvases may be arranged in any number of combinations’
      • ‘Manufacturers are able to produce a wide variety of aerosol devices by configuring these elements in different combinations.’
      • ‘Different loving relationships have different combinations of these elements.’
      • ‘The piece consists of dialogue rapidly rattled off by the characters, as they sit or arrange themselves in different combinations around a pair of wooden benches.’
      • ‘Use tulips to try out different color combinations, he suggests.’
      • ‘In every room, pre-programmed ‘scenes’ involving different combinations of lights can be used to capture exactly the right ambience.’
      • ‘So there are all sorts of permutations and combinations available to us.’
      • ‘The flexible seating and storage arrangements allow them to choose freely between different combinations of passengers and luggage.’
      • ‘The different partnerships and combinations have failed to gel over the last season.’
      • ‘Along with these yardages, made-ups, cushion cover and apparel are being displayed to show the varied combinations of different products.’
      • ‘The blending of spices is the essence of Indian cookery and there are many different types and combinations of spices which suit particular dishes, regional specialities, and taste preferences.’
      • ‘At one point I did a lot of work with producing the same song in many different arrangements and instrumental combinations, sort of like a film maker experimenting with angles etc.’
      • ‘Each member can play a variety of instruments and between them they can put all sorts of different combinations on the concert floor.’
      • ‘Take today, for example - I saw a long-sleeved shirt that came in four different color combinations, three of which I liked.’
      • ‘Seating offers a variety of arrangements: combinations enable the seating plan to be changed to suit four to two, or even one seat without any seats having to be removed.’
      • ‘Executed in acrylic and a clear gel medium, each work displays a different color combination and wave pattern.’
      • ‘Each group includes different combinations of instruments; a newly formed a cappella vocal jazz ensemble will also be featured.’
      • ‘How do the various color combinations make them feel?’
      • ‘Suggestions were made on the pairing of different wine and cheese, but participants were encouraged to try different combinations on their own.’
      • ‘Not only has he been able to use different combinations, a run of six victories and one draw has engendered a mood of well-founded confidence amongst the players.’
      • ‘However, the situations under natural sunlight could be different, and the possible wavelength combinations are numerous.’
      cooperation, alliance, partnership, participation, association, concert
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    3. 1.3 (in various sports and games) a coordinated and effective sequence of moves.
      ‘a good uppercut/hook combination’
      • ‘He stepped up a gear in the second, landing wonderful combinations before moving clear of danger, and he finished it with an 18-11 lead.’
      • ‘Only four opening combinations have been used more than 2% of the time, which more than demonstrates the lack of choice open to the Turkish player.’
      • ‘He stalked his moving opponent, throwing combinations and utilizing his movement to evade punches.’
      • ‘When shown in solo practice mode, running literarily hundreds of moves and combinations in elaborate, complex exercises, there is nothing dopey or dumb about him.’
      • ‘With this in mind - gamers should spend time with each character to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses and how their moves and combinations work.’
      • ‘If judges actually learn to score body shots or combinations, then the sport would resemble boxing.’
      • ‘Now, with so many new moves and combinations to choose from, participants never have the same workout twice!’
      • ‘They do a throw triple Lutz, then a side-by-side triple Lutz/double toe loop combination.’
      • ‘Returning characters are not forgotten, as there is also a new range of moves and combinations.’
      • ‘Compare them with opening combinations of the past.’
      • ‘She only landed a triple lutz/double toe loop combination and three other triples.’
      • ‘In this game, slick button combinations bring slick moves, which is the best way for you to get what you want.’
      • ‘He has natural pass-rushing skills and instincts, but he must develop a better inside move and use more combinations.’
      • ‘The little combo clock adds that tense, time-based factor so players can incorporate their newly found move into a bigger combination.’
      • ‘Nothing short of extremely difficult exercises in a combination could give a gymnast the full 10 points.’
      • ‘It does take a while to learn everything though as some of the moves require button combinations.’
      • ‘Let's start with the triple lutz/triple toe loop combination.’
      • ‘Though these remain the standard buttons used, there are also more combinations and moves, ranging from barrel rolls to guiding missiles.’
      • ‘Eventually, the combination becomes one smooth move: just get the braking leg extended as soon as you flip.’
      • ‘In the first volume, he covers effective footwork, combinations, slashing and stabbing, counters against common attacks and more.’
    4. 1.4as modifier Uniting different uses, functions, or ingredients.
      ‘a combination garment bag and backpack’
      • ‘And it was also used for combination scenes of the hero and the heroine.’
      • ‘Because the bar comes down at a 45-degree angle, high cable rows function as a combination row and front pulldown.’
      • ‘The popularity of the over-the-counter combination remedies may well be changing the practice of homeopathy.’
      • ‘In a slight change of direction all students were mixed into combination teams.’
      • ‘There are also combination cards with five pictures embracing the entire parish.’
      • ‘Another surprise for Elizabeth was a reunion held at Christian Manor in 1987 for a combination Mother's Day and birthday celebration.’
      • ‘There is also a combination dish with four different items for 210 baht.’
      • ‘There is a wide variety of flavours and plenty of combination boxes to choose from.’
      • ‘The club also organise full day coach tours, combination tours of walks and coach and half day coach tours’
      • ‘At least this time she's ditched the three quarter length denim shorts for a sort of skirt and top combination thing.’
      • ‘Individual remedies are more potent, but if you're not sure which one is right for you, try a combination remedy.’
      • ‘There are also several combination meals for one to four people that contain a generous amount of food.’
      • ‘They are testing combination drugs which will knock down bacterial defences and allow antibiotics to do the work they were born to do.’
      • ‘A hockey helmet consists of a shell, a foam lining and an optional face shield, cage, or combination visor and cage.’
      • ‘When given a combination vaccine, three different disorders are introduced deep into the body.’
      • ‘The trial also compared the use of the combination drug with the single use of each active ingredient.’
      • ‘And then there's combination post-it notes and desk calenders.’
      • ‘Third, make combination plantings, which include a mixture of different species of shrubs and trees.’
      • ‘This response rate was not significantly different from the response rate of combination treatment.’
      • ‘There was a noticeable trend towards the use of combination baler and wrapper machines among contractors and farmers making round bale silage.’
    5. 1.5Chemistry The joining of substances in a compound with new properties.
  • 2A sequence of numbers or letters used to open a combination lock.

    as modifier ‘a combination briefcase’
    • ‘Permits for individuals and small groups will be available from the Lake District National Park Authority and will be issued with combination numbers for locks.’
    • ‘Turning the dial and entering the correct combination, he pulled open the metal safe door and peered inside at the Manila folders it contained.’
    • ‘She said with a bite of sarcasm before quickly performing the combination and pulling open her locker.’
    • ‘The leader rapidly tapped in the combination that opened the door and switched off the alarms.’
    • ‘Figuring out a master combination is a methodical process of elimination, determining pin by pin how deep to cut the key.’
    • ‘He set the safe on his bed, quickly put in the combination and opened it.’
    • ‘I shrugged it off, and went to my locker, and was in the process of doing the combination when I felt someone's eyes on me.’
    • ‘He fiddled with his combination and opened his locker.’
    • ‘She spun the combination and pulled open the door.’
    • ‘I smiled happily then turned and headed for my locker, dialed the combination, opened it up and stuck the new books I'd required on the shelf.’
    • ‘She opened the school door and went running down the hall to her locker; she quickly twirled her combination and opened her locker and grabbed her book.’
    • ‘I went to my locker, did my combination and pulled it open.’
    • ‘Finding just the right combination was a process akin to spinning the dial on a lock, praying each time to hit the right series.’
    • ‘He turned the lock knob to put the combinations in and then opened it.’
    • ‘I dialed the combination and opened the locker's door.’
    • ‘Curious, she dialed her combination and opened the door.’
    • ‘I went to my locker, number 278, entered the combination, and opened it.’
    • ‘The correct combination will open the device.’
    • ‘It must be a hidden safe, one that will only open if the right combination was dialed on the phone.’
    • ‘If a bowler could figure out the combination, he could open up the safe and get the money.’
  • 3Mathematics
    A selection of a given number of elements from a larger number without regard to their arrangement.

    • ‘Perhaps they're computing permutations of combinations?’
    • ‘Mahavira gave special rules for the use of permutations and combinations which was a topic of special interest in Jaina mathematics.’
    • ‘One of the hardest parts about doing problems that use permutations and combinations is deciding which formula to use.’
    • ‘His final publication was on combinations where he used the notation (m, n) for the combinations of n objects selected from m objects.’
    • ‘The mathematical possibilities, the permutations and combinations, the percentages, all tended to mislead a good number of readers.’


Late Middle English: from late Latin combinatio(n-), from the verb combinare ‘join two by two’ (see combine).