[kuh m-plahy-uh ns]
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  1. the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding.
  2. a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.
  3. conformity; accordance: in compliance with orders.
  4. cooperation or obedience: Compliance with the law is expected of all.
  5. Physics.
    1. the strain of an elastic body expressed as a function of the force producing the strain.
    2. a coefficient expressing the responsiveness of a mechanical system to a periodic force.

Origin of compliance

First recorded in 1635–45; comply + -ance
Related formso·ver·com·pli·ance, nounpre·com·pli·ance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for compliance



  1. the act of complying; acquiescence
  2. a disposition to yield to or comply with others
  3. a measure of the ability of a mechanical system to respond to an applied vibrating force, expressed as the reciprocal of the system's stiffnessSymbol: C
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 compliance

1640s, from comply + -ance. Related: Compliancy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

compliance in Medicine


  1. A measure of the ease with which a structure or substance may be deformed, especially a measure of the ease with which a hollow organ may be distended.
  2. The degree of constancy and accuracy with which a patient follows a prescribed regimen, as distinguished from adherence or maintenance.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.