• synonyms


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

Related Words for complementary

integral, reciprocal, interdependent, equivalent, correspondent, parallel, correlative, fellow, conclusive, corresponding, crowning, integrative, complemental, commutual, completing, interconnected, interrelated

Examples from the Web for complementary

Contemporary Examples of complementary

Historical Examples of complementary

  • The scientific mind and the religious spirit are complementary.

  • The complementary story is told of the mandrake in mediæval Europe.

  • Actually, the relations of transmission and encounter are complementary.

    Herein is Love

    Reuel L. Howe

  • Here we see an area in which the role of the family and the role of the school are complementary.

    Herein is Love

    Reuel L. Howe

  • But there was a complementary historical truth on the other side.

British Dictionary definitions for complementary



  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
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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 complementary


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper