[ kuhm-plahy-uhns ]
/ kəmˈplaɪ əns /
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the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding.
a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.
conformity; accordance: in compliance with orders.
cooperation or obedience: Compliance with the law is expected of all.
  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.
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Origin of compliance

First recorded in 1635–45; comply + -ance


o·ver·com·pli·ance, nounpre·com·pli·ance, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is compliance?

Compliance is the act of conforming and yielding, as with orders or laws. It is usually used in reference to written rules and regulations or spoken commands, as from police officers or a superior.

Compliance can also refer to someone’s tendency to agree, especially in a submissive way.

In physics, compliance refers to a coefficient expressing something’s responsiveness or counterforce when force is applied to it.

Related to that, compliance is also the strain of an elastic body expressed as a function of the force producing the strain. In other words, compliance describes how easy it is for something to pool or flow within parts of the body or flexible vessels.

Example: To be in full compliance with his school’s uniform policy, Tom had to get his hair cut.

Where does compliance come from?

The first records of the term compliance come from around the 1630s. It combines the term comply, meaning “to act according to wishes or demands,” and the suffix ance, which forms nouns from adjectives or verbs.

Compliance can also mean cooperation or obedience, as in The factory was found to be in full compliance with all safety regulations. Many large companies will have compliance officers, whose job is to check and change the organization’s policies to make sure they comply with government and local regulations.

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What are some other forms related to compliance?

  • overcompliance (noun)
  • precompliance (noun)

What are some synonyms for compliance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with compliance

What are some words that often get used in discussing compliance?

How is compliance used in real life?

Compliance is frequently used in official documents and other formal writing.


Try using compliance!

Is compliance used correctly in the following sentence?

In compliance with the university’s new regulations, we will be replacing our food serving stations with self-serve buffets.

How to use compliance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for compliance



/ (kəmˈplaɪəns) /

the act of complying; acquiescence
a disposition to yield to or comply with others
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