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  1. composed of elaborately interconnected parts; complex: complicated apparatus for measuring brain functions.
  2. difficult to analyze, understand, explain, etc.: a complicated problem.
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Origin of complicated

First recorded in 1640–50; complicate + -ed2
Related formscom·pli·cat·ed·ly, adverbcom·pli·cat·ed·ness, nounun·com·pli·cat·ed, adjective


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[verb kom-pli-keyt; adjective kom-pli-kit]
verb (used with object), com·pli·cat·ed, com·pli·cat·ing.
  1. to make complex, intricate, involved, or difficult: His recovery from the operation was complicated by an allergic reaction.
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  1. complex; involved.
  2. Entomology. folded longitudinally one or more times, as the wings of certain insects.
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Origin of complicate

1615–25; < Latin complicātus (past participle of complicāre to fold together), equivalent to com- com- + -plic- (combining form of *plecāre to fold, akin to plectī to plait; see complex) + -ātus -ate1
Related formso·ver·com·pli·cate, verb (used with object), o·ver·com·pli·cat·ed, o·ver·com·pli·cat·ing.pre·com·pli·cate, verb (used with object), pre·com·pli·cat·ed, pre·com·pli·cat·ing.re·com·pli·cate, verb (used with object), re·com·pli·cat·ed, re·com·pli·cat·ing.un·com·pli·cate, verb (used with object), un·com·pli·cat·ed, un·com·pli·cat·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for complicated

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He was tying a most complicated knot, and could not look up.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The situation was, however, complicated by the proximity of the Afghan frontier.

  • Again Margaret hesitated; the thing seemed too complicated and full of danger.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • He understands the financial situation, which is rather a complicated one.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • What a complicated world this would be if we could all wear masks!

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for complicated


  1. made up of intricate parts or aspects that are difficult to understand or analyse
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Derived Formscomplicatedly, adverbcomplicatedness, noun


verb (ˈkɒmplɪˌkeɪt)
  1. to make or become complex
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adjective (ˈkɒmplɪkɪt)
  1. biology folded on itselfa complicate leaf
  2. a less common word for complicated
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Word Origin

C17: from Latin complicāre to fold together, from plicāre to fold
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 complicated


1640s, "tangled," from past participle adjective from complicate. Figurative meaning "not easy to solve, intricate, confused, difficult to unravel" is from 1650s.

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1620s, "to intertwine" (as a past participle adjective, early 15c.), from Latin complicatus "folded together; confused, intricate," past participle of complicare (see complication). Meaning "to make more complex" is recorded from 1832, from earlier sense "to combine in a complex way" (17c.). Related: Complicated; complicating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper