• synonyms


[kom-pluh-men-tuh-ree, -tree]
  1. forming a complement; completing.
  2. complementing each other.
Show More
noun, plural com·ple·men·ta·ries.
  1. complementary color(def 1).
Show More

Origin of complementary

First recorded in 1590–1600; complement + -ary
Related formscom·ple·men·ta·ri·ness, nounun·com·ple·men·ta·ry, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for complementaries

Historical Examples of complementaries

  • The answer is that the union is one of complementaries, and not of antitheses.

    Sex=The Unknown Quantity

    Ali Nomad

  • The greatest possible contrast is that of the complementaries.

    The Painter in Oil

    Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst

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

    The Science of Human Nature

    William Henry Pyle

  • These primaries are red, green, and blue and it will be noted that they are the complementaries of the "subtractive" primaries.

    Artificial Light

    M. Luckiesh

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for complementaries



  1. acting as or forming a complement; completing
  2. forming a satisfactory or balanced whole
  3. forming a mathematical complementsine and cosine are complementary functions
  4. maths logic (of a pair of sets, etc) mutually exclusive and exhaustive, each being the complement of the other
  5. (of genes) producing an effect in association with other genes
  6. involving or using the treatments and techniques of complementary medicine
Show More
Derived Formscomplementarily or complementally, adverbcomplementariness, 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

Word Origin and History for complementaries



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

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper