com·​pla·​cen·​cy | \kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn(t)-sē \
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

For Desforges, the hope is that the growing pile of data on the lingering effects of PCB should help to prevent complacency among regulators. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "A decades-old pollutant is still threatening orca populations," 28 Sep. 2018 Trump officials say the president has needed to use harsh language to jolt NATO out of complacency and scare allies into devoting more money toward defense. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "Trump wants all of NATO spending 2 percent on defense. But is it so simple?," 10 July 2018 Chalk it up to complacency for VW’s best-selling vehicle of all time, which won’t get a full redesign until model year 2020. Robert Duffer,, "Car review: Volkswagen finally gives Golf GTI the tech it deserves," 5 June 2018 But what Conway sees, and the statistics back him up, is complacency in making sure children get the vaccine. Anna Groves, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Want to prevent your children from getting cancer? Doctors push HPV vaccine," 9 July 2018 Of all the ways Mr Trump has altered the party of Ronald Reagan, none is more remarkable than its new complacency about Mr Putin and his ongoing effort to undermine American democracy. The Economist, "The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki," 5 July 2018 Assuming things will just sort themselves out is what complacency is all about. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Surprise! Jurgen Klinsmann is back on his hypocrisy," 1 July 2018 Peru improved and might have punished Les Bleus for their complacency had Pedro Aquino’s shot from 25 yards been a fraction more accurate. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "France Wins Again, but the Question Persists: Is It a Contender?," 21 June 2018 Osborn cautioned that the absence of a rash should not lead to complacency. Anna Groves, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Don't panic over first Rocky Mountain spotted fever death in Wisconsin, but be careful," 12 July 2018

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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Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for complacency

The first known use of complacency was in 1650

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More Definitions for complacency



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 \

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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