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compliment

[ noun kom-pluh-muhnt; verb kom-pluh-ment ]
/ noun ˈkɒm plə mənt; verb ˈkɒm pləˌmɛnt /
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See synonyms for: compliment / complimented / complimenting / compliments on Thesaurus.com

noun
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to pay compliments.

VIDEO FOR COMPLIMENT

Compliment vs. Complement

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Origin of compliment

First recorded in 1570–80; from French, from Italian complimento from Spanish cumplimiento “compliance or fulfillment of the forms of a courtesy, ” equivalent to cumpli(r) “to complete” + -miento noun suffix; see origin at comply,-ment; earlier identical in spelling with complement

words often confused with compliment

OTHER WORDS FROM compliment

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH compliment

complement, compliment (see confusables note at complement)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

COMPLIMENT VS. COMPLEMENT

What’s the difference between compliment and complement?

A compliment is a comment intended to express praise or admiration of someone. Compliment is also commonly used as a verb meaning to give a compliment. The word complement most commonly refers to something that goes along with something else and serves to make it better or complete it. It’s also commonly used as a verb meaning to serve as a complement in this way, as in That necklace really complements the rest of your outfit.

Complement has many other specific meanings, but compliment is really only used to refer to a nice comment or the action of giving one.

Since the primary senses of both words are generally used in positive contexts, it can be easy to confuse them.

The adjective form of complement is complementary, as in complementary colors. The adjective form of compliment is complimentary, which can describe something intended to be a compliment, as in complimentary remark, or it can be used to mean that something is given for free, as in I hope we get complimentary snacks on this flight.

The easiest way to remember the difference is that complement often means to complete, and complete also starts with c-o-m-p-l-e. On the other hand, compliment is spelled with an i, and compliments are something that I like to get (and give). Nice shirt, by the way.

Here’s an example of compliment and complement used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: The chef overheard the diners at one table complimenting the way the sauce complemented the fish, so she told the server to offer them a complimentary dessert. 

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between compliment and complement.

Quiz yourself on compliment vs. complement!

Should compliment or complement be used in the following sentence?

The two singers have very different styles, but they _____ each other so well during the performance.

How to use compliment in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for compliment

compliment

noun (ˈkɒmplɪmənt)
a remark or act expressing respect, admiration, etc
(usually plural) a greeting of respect or regard
verb (ˈkɒmplɪˌmɛnt) (tr)
to express admiration of; congratulate or commend
to express or show respect or regard for, esp by a gift

Word Origin for compliment

C17: from French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir to complete, do what is fitting, be polite

undefined compliment

Avoid confusion with complement
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with compliment

compliment

see left-handed compliment; pay a compliment; return the compliment.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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