[kom-pluh-men-tuh-ree, -tree]


forming a complement; completing.
complementing each other.

noun, plural com·ple·men·ta·ries.

Origin of complementary

First recorded in 1590–1600; complement + -ary
Related formscom·ple·men·ta·ri·ness, nounun·com·ple·men·ta·ry, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for complementaries

Historical Examples of complementaries

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

  • 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




acting as or forming a complement; completing
forming a satisfactory or balanced whole
forming a mathematical complementsine 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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper