[noun kom-pluh-muhnt; verb kom-pluh-ment]


verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to pay compliments.

Origin of compliment

1570–80; < French < Italian complimento < Spanish cumplimiento, equivalent to cumpli- (see comply) + -miento -ment; earlier identical in spelling with complement
Related formscom·pli·ment·a·ble, adjectivecom·pli·ment·er, nouncom·pli·ment·ing·ly, adverbout·com·pli·ment, verb (used with object)un·com·pli·ment·ed, adjectiveun·com·pli·ment·ing, adjective
Can be confusedcomplement compliment (see usage note at complement)

Synonyms for compliment

Antonyms for compliment

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for complimenting

Contemporary Examples of complimenting

  • Some reports made it out that I was, you know, complimenting [Justice] Kennedy, that I was in love with this ruling.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Rand Paul: I’m Not My Dad

    David Catanese

    June 29, 2013

  • Peter Beinart, for example, implies such criticism in complimenting Alan Dershowitz for publicly supporting a settlement freeze.

    The Daily Beast logo
    In Defense of Israel Advocacy

    David Bernstein

    July 9, 2012

  • Even Gingrich, after complimenting Cain's attempt to simplify a complex idea, took a jab at the pizza guy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    GOP Debate Live Updates

    October 18, 2011

  • They both thanked staff and posed for pictures, with Palin complimenting the “real New York City pizza.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Sarah Palin and Donald Trump's Pizza Summit

    Shushannah Walshe

    June 1, 2011

Historical Examples of complimenting

  • Apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, Kennedy got up to go, complimenting the proprietor on his wine.

    The Silent Bullet

    Arthur B. Reeve

  • All the girls, and many of the boys, gathered around him, sympathizing with his triumph and complimenting him upon his abilities.


    Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth

  • All the princes followed the King's example in complimenting each of us with a kiss.

    Old and New London

    Walter Thornbury

  • You can imagine his first advances, complimenting her upon her fresh morning looks.

  • The Reverend Mr. Trewan arose, and after clearing his throat several times began by complimenting the students.

    Ande Trembath

    Matthew Stanley Kemp

British Dictionary definitions for complimenting


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


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

Word Origin and History for complimenting



"An act, or expression of civility, usually understood to include some hypocrisy, and to mean less than it declares" [Johnson], 1570s, complement, via French compliment (17c.), from Italian complimento "expression of respect and civility," from Vulgar Latin *complire, for Latin complere "to complete" (see complete (adj.)), via notion of "complete the obligations of politeness." Same word as complement but by a different etymological route; differentiated by spelling after 1650.



1610s, from French complimenter, from compliment (see compliment (n.)). Related: Complimented; complimenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with complimenting


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.