- a word or group of words that completes a grammatical construction in the predicate and that describes or is identified with the subject or object, as small in The house is small or president in They elected her president.Compare object complement, subject complement.
- any word or group of words used to complete a grammatical construction, especially in the predicate, including adverbials, as on the table in He put it on the table, infinitives, as to go in They are ready to go, and sometimes objects, as ball in He caught the ball.
- a system in vertebrate blood of 12 or more proteins that react in a cascade to a cell displaying immune complexes or foreign surfaces, acting in various combinations to coat the cell and promote phagocytosis, make holes in the cell wall, or enhance the inflammatory response.
- any of the proteins in the complement system, designated C1, C2, etc.
Origin of complement
synonym study for complement
words often confused with complement
OTHER WORDS FROM complementcom·ple·ment·er, noun
Words nearby complement
COMPLEMENT VS. COMPLIMENT
What’s the difference between complement and compliment?
The word complement most commonly refers to something that goes along with something else and serves to make it better or complete it. It’s also commonly used as a verb meaning to serve as a complement in this way, as in That necklace really complements the rest of your outfit. A compliment is a comment intended to express praise or admiration of someone. Compliment is also commonly used as a verb meaning to give a compliment.
Complement has many other specific meanings, but compliment is really only used to refer to a nice comment or the action of giving one.
Since the primary senses of both words are generally used in positive contexts, it can be easy to confuse them.
The adjective form of complement is complementary, as in complementary colors. The adjective form of compliment is complimentary, which can describe something intended to be a compliment, as in complimentary remark, or it can be used to mean that something is given for free, as in I hope we get complimentary snacks on this flight.
The easiest way to remember the difference is that complement often means to complete, and complete also starts with c-o-m-p-l-e. On the other hand, compliment is spelled with an i, and compliments are something that I like to get (and give). Nice shirt, by the way.
Here’s an example of complement and compliment used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: The chef overheard the diners at one table complimenting the way the sauce complemented the fish, so she told the server to offer them a complimentary dessert.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between complement and compliment.
Quiz yourself on complement vs. compliment!
Should complement or compliment be used in the following sentence?
The two singers have very different styles, but they _____ each other so well during the performance.
How to use complement in a sentence
Rusenko acknowledges that QR-code ordering may not be for everyone and notes that it is designed as a complement rather than a replacement for traditional service from a waiter.Fewer waiters, no menus: Is Square’s new service the future of dining?|Jeff|September 29, 2020|Fortune
As he had on Tuesday, he also explicitly made the link between having a full complement of nine justices and a potential need for the Supreme Court to rule on a disputed election result.Senate Republicans push for rapid confirmation of still-unnamed Supreme Court nominee|Seung Min Kim, Erica Werner|September 24, 2020|Washington Post
There’s been a series of programs, intentional and targeted interventions, that really allow us now to look at the full complement of our people’s journey.
Face masks can be a complement to other things when other things are safely in place.
Their streaming ad inventory was sold in complement to their linear ad inventory.TV networks begin to signal willingness to prioritize streaming over linear|Tim Peterson|July 29, 2020|Digiday
Champagne, which is also acidic, offers a nice complement to anything from tuna tartare to beef bourguignon.
They play an important role fighting next to the men because they complement one another.
To complement brain wiring, everyone walks around with retinal cams.
The ship is highly automated with a crew of just 142 -- compared to older ships that have a complement of about 300.Can the Navy's $12 Billion Stealth Destroyer Stay Afloat?|Dave Majumdar|October 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The mini-thons will be thematically organized to complement the new episode.A 200-Hour ‘Simpsons’ Marathon? That’s Unpossible!|Rich Goldstein|July 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Take a case in Trigonometry—a Complement is what remains after subtracting an angle from one right-angle.Assimilative Memory|Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)
Her total Naval complement is 2200 officers and enlisted men of the regular Navy.
The French continually offers redundancy of subject or complement, but not with the relative.Frdric Mistral|Charles Alfred Downer
It is the apt accompaniment of a whining tongue, the fit complement of a verjuice countenance.A Cursory History of Swearing|Julian Sharman
There is no dramme of manhood to suspect,On such thin ayrie circumstance as thisMeere complement and courtship.The Fatal Dowry|Philip Massinger
British Dictionary definitions for complement
- a noun phrase that follows a copula or similar verb, as for example an idiot in the sentence He is an idiot
- a clause that serves as the subject or direct object of a verb or the direct object of a preposition, as for example that he would be early in the sentence I hoped that he would be early