[ kom-pluh-men-tuh-ree, -tree ]
/ ˌkɒm pləˈmɛn tə ri, -tri /
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See synonyms for: complimentary / complimentariness on Thesaurus.com

of the nature of, conveying, or expressing a compliment, often one that is politely flattering: a complimentary remark.
given free as a gift or courtesy: a complimentary ticket.
noun, plural com·pli·men·ta·ries.
something given or supplied without charge, as lodging, transportation, or meals, especially as an inducement to prospective customers.

OPPOSITES FOR complimentary

1 abusive, unflattering.
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Origin of complimentary

First recorded in 1620–30; compliment + -ary

OTHER WORDS FROM complimentary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What’s the difference between complimentary and complementary?

Complimentary is an adjective that can describe something intended to be a compliment—a comment that expresses praise or admiration of someone (as in a complimentary remark). It can also be used to mean that something is given for free, as in I hope we get complimentary snacks on this flight. Complementary is an adjective used to describe something that complements something else—goes along with it and serves to make it better or complete it (as in complementary colors).

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

The easiest way to remember the difference is that complementary often involves something that completes something else, and complete also starts with c-o-m-p-l-e. On the other hand, you can remember that complimentary is spelled with an i because compliments are something that I like to get (and give). Nice shirt, by the way.

Here’s an example of complimentary and complementary used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: Sometimes, when the chef overhears complimentary feedback about a dish, she sends out a complimentary bottle of wine—one that’s complementary to the rest of the meal, of course.

Want to learn more? Read about the difference between compliment and complement.

Quiz yourself on complimentary vs. complementary!

Should complimentary or complementary be used in the following sentence?

My comment was meant to be _____—I really do like your shoes!

How to use complimentary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for complimentary

/ (ˌkɒmplɪˈmɛntərɪ, -trɪ) /

conveying, containing, or resembling a compliment
expressing praise; flattering
given free, esp as a courtesy or for publicity purposes

Derived forms of complimentary

complimentarily, adverb
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