Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective com·pla·cent \kəm-ˈplā-sənt\

Simple Definition of complacent

  • : satisfied with how things are and not wanting to change them

Full Definition of complacent

  1. 1 :  marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies :  marked by complacency :  self-satisfied <a complacent smile>

  2. 2 :  complaisant 1

  3. 3 :  unconcerned

com·pla·cent·ly adverb

Examples of complacent

  1. … I gazed at my mother's poised, beautiful profile as her face turned from side to side, calm or complacent, accepting what the route offered. —Donald Hall, Atlantic, October 1996

  2. Mr. Davis organized his second great quintet in the mid-60's, but by then jazz had taken a new turn and many felt he had become passé, a complacent peacock. —Gary Giddins, New York Times Book Review, 15 Oct. 1989

  3. … he hopes to break through the reader's complacent indifference, make him aware of his predicament, and force him to take sides. —Monroe K. Spears, American Ambitions, 1987

  4. Lord Lathkill … was so completely unostentatious, so very willing to pay all the attention to me, and yet so subtly complacent, so unquestionably sure of his position. —D. H. Lawrence, The Complete Short Stories Volume III , (1922) 1981

  5. The strong economy has made people complacent.

  6. We have grown too complacent over the years.

  7. We can't afford to be complacent about illiteracy.

Origin of complacent

Latin complacent-, complacens, present participle of complacēre to please greatly, from com- + placēre to please — more at please

First Known Use: 1760

Rhymes with complacent

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up complacent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

100 pounds 196.5 pounds 16.96 pounds 2.2 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.