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[kom-pluh-men-tuh-ree, -tree] /ˌkɒm pləˈmɛn tə ri, -tri/
forming a complement; completing.
complementing each other.
noun, plural complementaries.
Origin of complementary
1590-1600; complement + -ary
Related forms
complementariness, noun
uncomplementary, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for complementaries
Historical Examples
  • The greatest possible contrast is that of the complementaries.

    The Painter in Oil Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
  • The answer is that the union is one of complementaries, and not of antitheses.

  • Light, the play of complementaries, the breaking up of light, the study of values!

  • In a similar way, light and dark tints act as complementaries.

    The Science of Human Nature William Henry Pyle
  • In the same way mix the two complementaries yellow and blue to produce a gray; mix red and green in the same way.

    The Mind and Its Education George Herbert Betts
  • The effect of complementaries in color contrast is what you must study for this, for the theory of it.

    The Painter in Oil Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
  • Everything in nature is manifested to us by means of light and its complementaries, reflection and shadow.

  • In it we find cold shadows opposed to hot lights, and the contiguous placing of complementaries.

    Modern Painting, Its Tendency and Meaning Willard Huntington Wright
  • Thus, tints of one color with shades of its complementary produce a more pleasing effect than do complementaries of equal value.

    Elementary Color Milton Bradley
  • His next step led him to Chevreul whose theory of complementaries he committed to memory.

    Modern Painting, Its Tendency and Meaning Willard Huntington Wright
British Dictionary definitions for complementaries


/ˌkɒmplɪˈmɛntərɪ; -trɪ/
acting as or forming a complement; completing
forming a satisfactory or balanced whole
forming a mathematical complement: sine and cosine are complementary functions
(maths, logic) (of a pair of sets, etc) mutually exclusive and exhaustive, each being the complement of the other
(of genes) producing an effect in association with other genes
involving or using the treatments and techniques of complementary medicine
Derived Forms
complementarily, complementally, adverb
complementariness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for complementaries



1620s, "ceremonious," from complement + -ary. Sense "forming a complement" attested from 1829, earliest in complementary colors.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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