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illustration Complement



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, 14th century


A thing that completes or brings to perfection.


A number or quantity of something, especially that required to make a group complete.

Examples of Complement in a sentence

"Sometimes a pinch of salt is the perfect complement to a sweet recipe."

"The home’s proximity to the lake is a complement to its beautiful view of the mountains."

About Complement

“Complement” is taken directly from the Latin “complēmentum,” meaning “that which fills up or completes.” That word’s past participle, “complētus,” meaning “to be finished,” is the root of the English word “complete.”

Did you Know?

“Complement” is easily confused with its homonym, “compliment,” a noun meaning an expression of praise or admiration, or a verb meaning to give praise. Both words are based on the same Latin root, “complēmentum,” meaning to fill up or complete, and “complement” remains close to this meaning with its implied completion or perfection. By contrast, in the late 1600s, “compliment” appeared in French and Italian with the specific meaning of completing the courteous actions expected of a well-mannered person. For these reasons, a “complement” completes, while a “compliment” expresses politeness.

illustration Complement

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