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[noun kom-pluh-muh nt; verb kom-pluh-ment] /noun ˈkɒm plə mənt; verb ˈkɒm pləˌmɛnt/
an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration:
A sincere compliment boosts one's morale.
a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard:
The mayor paid him the compliment of escorting him.
compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards:
He sends you his compliments.
Archaic. a gift; present.
verb (used with object)
to pay a compliment to:
She complimented the child on his good behavior.
to show kindness or regard for by a gift or other favor:
He complimented us by giving a party in our honor.
to congratulate; felicitate:
to compliment a prince on the birth of a son.
verb (used without object)
to pay compliments.
Origin of compliment
1570-80; < French < Italian complimento < Spanish cumplimiento, equivalent to cumpli- (see comply) + -miento -ment; earlier identical in spelling with complement
Related forms
complimentable, adjective
complimenter, noun
complimentingly, adverb
outcompliment, verb (used with object)
uncomplimented, adjective
uncomplimenting, adjective
Can be confused
complement, compliment (see usage note at complement)
1. kudos, tribute, eulogy, panegyric. 5. commend, praise, honor.
1. disparagement.
Usage note
See complement. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for compliment
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thank you for the compliment, but I don't expect to stick to it all my life.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • She laughed her little laugh of pleasure, and thanked him prettily for the compliment.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • "I can make a horse do what I want," he said, delighted at the compliment.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • They are angry also, as I understand, with my mother, for returning his compliment.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • But Mr. Gladstone, while acknowledging the compliment, declined because of his age.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
British Dictionary definitions for compliment


noun (ˈkɒmplɪmənt)
a remark or act expressing respect, admiration, etc
(usually pl) a greeting of respect or regard
verb (transitive) (ˈkɒmplɪˌmɛnt)
to express admiration of; congratulate or commend
to express or show respect or regard for, esp by a gift
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir to complete, do what is fitting, be polite
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 compliment

"An act, or expression of civility, usually understood to include some hypocrisy, and to mean less than it declares" [Johnson], 1570s, complement, via French compliment (17c.), from Italian complimento "expression of respect and civility," from Vulgar Latin *complire, for Latin complere "to complete" (see complete (adj.)), via notion of "complete the obligations of politeness." Same word as complement but by a different etymological route; differentiated by spelling after 1650.


1610s, from French complimenter, from compliment (see compliment (n.)). Related: Complimented; complimenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with compliment
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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