com·​pla·​cen·​cy | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn(t)-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio) \
plural complacencies

Definition of complacency

1 : self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.
2 : an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction

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Examples of complacency in a Sentence

He sees a dangerous sense of complacency about the U.S. stock market—where investors were emboldened after the 1998 downturn was followed by a resounding snapback. — Bernard Wysocki, Jr., Wall Street Journal, 3 Aug. 1999 He spoke, however, with resignation, even complacency, rather than anguish. — Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and The Mermaid, 1997 … you say to yourself, "OK, why did it happen? Why did we make those bad engineering decisions we made in 1967 and 1986 with Challenger?" I'll tell you. It's the human element. And I suggest that there's a complacency there that comes from success. — Alan Shepard, Yankee, October 1991 Tony Brace lived in Richmond, in circumstances of impeccable domestic content. Matthew and Susan had visited, in the early days of their marriage; driving home, they had mocked the décor and the connubial complacency. — Penelope Lively, City Of The Mind, 1991 The public was lulled into complacency. a momentary complacency that was quickly dispelled by the shock of cold reality
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Recent Examples on the Web What’s left is Stevenson’s self-righteousness — his savior complex — and here is where the activist filmmakers director Destin Daniel Cretton and co-screenwriter Andrew Lanham reveal their complacency. Armond White, National Review, "Just Mercy Proves Art Is Not Activism," 24 Jan. 2020 With Atlanta, coming up with a lot of big prospects, there was never a sense of complacency. Dallas News, "What a restocked starting rotation means for the Rangers’ other up-and-coming arms," 22 Jan. 2020 That run of success bred a measure of complacency, Chiao said. Mike Wall, Scientific American, "Challenger Disaster 30 Years Ago Shocked the World, Changed NASA," 28 Jan. 2016 At an election on February 29th Slovakia’s voters proved similarly motivated, turning out in large numbers to kick out Smer, a left-wing party whose 12 almost unbroken years in office had become a byword for corruption and complacency. The Economist, "An anti-corruption campaigner triumphs in Slovakia," 7 Mar. 2020 Universa hedged without timing the market or taking a risk, which holds a lesson about risk, reward and complacency. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "How to Hedge a Coronavirus," 4 Mar. 2020 Contributing to the crash was the Tesla vehicle's ineffective monitoring of driver engagement, which facilitated the driver's complacency and inattentiveness. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "NTSB Rules Autopilot was Probable Cause of Fatal 2018 Tesla Model X Crash," 25 Feb. 2020 The Hipster ensures the organization is catering to today’s — and tomorrow’s — customer needs, helping to avoid complacency and ultimately irrelevance. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "3 non-traditional roles your company must have for growth," 22 Feb. 2020 In 1923, Lu laid down perhaps his most enduring metaphor, for the dilemma that injustice imposes on those who must choose between complacency and fury. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "China’s ‘Iron House’: Struggling Over Silence in the Coronavirus Epidemic," 12 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complacency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of complacency

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complacency

see complacent

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Time Traveler for complacency

Time Traveler

The first known use of complacency was in 1650

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Statistics for complacency

Last Updated

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Complacency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for complacency


How to pronounce complacency (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of complacency

: a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition


com·​pla·​cen·​cy | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio) \

Kids Definition of complacency

: a feeling of being satisfied with the way things are and not wanting to make them better

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