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1

compliment

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noun com·pli·ment \ˈkäm-plə-mənt\

Simple Definition of compliment

  • : a remark that says something good about someone or something

  • : an action that expresses admiration or approval

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of compliment

  1. 1 a :  an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially :  an admiring remark b :  formal and respectful recognition :  honor

  2. 2 plural :  best wishes :  regards <accept my compliments> <compliments of the season>

Examples of compliment in a sentence

  1. Boys in the Midwest grow up without a word of praise, their parents fearful that a compliment might make them vain … —Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance, 1991

  2. Mallard scowled at him. He had never learned to receive compliment or expressions of gratitude gracefully. —Dorothy Simpson, The Night She Died, 1981

  3. “The warden said he wouldn't let just anybody have a young swan, but he'd let you have one because you understand about birds, and he trusts you. That's quite a compliment, son.” Mr. Beaver looked pleased. —E. B. White, The Trumpet Of The Swan, (1970) 2000

  4. The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours … Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. —Abraham Lincoln, letter, 17 Aug. 1863

  5. He told her he admired her paintings and she returned the compliment by saying that she was a fan of his sculptures.

  6. When customers recommend our company to friends and family members, we consider that to be the highest compliment we can get.



Is it complement or compliment?

Today there is no overlap between the meanings of complement and compliment, as either nouns or verbs, but their similar spellings and pronunciations make them prime candidates for confusion. Despite the difference in their meanings, both complement and compliment have roots in the Latin word complēre which means “to complete.” Complement remains true to that origin in its spelling and in its meanings that have to do with completing or completion. Keep that connection in mind and there should be no question as to whether complement or compliment is the correct word to use in a given context.

Origin and Etymology of compliment

Middle French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir to be courteous — more at comply


First Known Use: 1598


2

compliment

play
verb com·pli·ment \ˈkäm-plə-ˌment\

Simple Definition of compliment

  • : to say nice things about (someone or something) : to pay a compliment to (someone or something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of compliment

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to express esteem, respect, affection, or admiration to :  to pay a compliment to

  3. 2 :  to present with a token of esteem

Examples of compliment in a sentence

  1. She was forever complimenting Ziba's exotic appearance and asking for her viewpoint on various international issues. —Anne Tyler, Digging to America, 2006

  2. … she had gotten a three-and-a-half-star review in the Nut County Reporter, complimenting her especially on her crème brûlée and her pork medallions … —Jane Smiley, Good Faith, 2003

  3. What a day. She had been winked at, complimented, given a gift, and now mistaken for the mysterious Alyce … —Karen Cushman, The Midwife's Apprentice, 1995

  4. Wilde would compliment him later: ‘I have always regarded you as the best critic of my plays.’ ‘But I have never criticised your plays,’ said Tree. ‘That's why,’ said Wilde. —Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, (1984) 1988

  5. <complimented her on her election victory>



Origin and Etymology of compliment

(see 1compliment)


First Known Use: 1673



COMPLIMENT Defined for Kids

1

compliment

play
noun com·pli·ment \ˈkäm-plə-mənt\

Definition of compliment for Students

  1. 1 :  an act or expression of praise, approval, respect, or admiration

  2. 2 compliments plural :  best wishes <Please accept this with my compliments.>




2

compliment

play
verb com·pli·ment \ˈkäm-plə-ˌment\

Definition of compliment for Students

complimented

complimenting

  1. :  to express praise, approval, respect, or admiration to





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