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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Not wanting to learn a new system justifies the complacency trap many small business owners run into. Hessie Jones, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 White House officials insist Biden’s relative reticence should not be interpreted as complacency with the growing movement to rewrite history surrounding the Jan. 6 riot., 3 Jan. 2022 Anger is almost always a greater motivator to vote than smug complacency. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 3 Sep. 2021 Leonard is far less concerned about criticism than complacency. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Aug. 2021 The vaccination program lost steam as complacency set in. New York Times, 1 May 2021 Russia’s full-fledged invasion of its neighbor has seemingly ended an era of post-Cold War complacency in European capitals and shaken up the continent’s geopolitics. Washington Post, 13 Apr. 2022 The cyclical danger, however, will come from public exhaustion and political complacency that might occur when Ukraine recedes from the headlines. Douglas London, CNN, 11 Apr. 2022 Macron aside, many of the leading candidates have displayed a history of complacency toward Putin, prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Garret Martin, The Conversation, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of complacency was in 1650

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Complacency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for complacency


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

More from Merriam-Webster on complacency

Nglish: Translation of complacency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complacency for Arabic Speakers


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