com·​pla·​cen·​cy kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn(t)-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio)
plural complacencies
: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.
: 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 Businesses will come to see the complacency of electronic connections leads to subpar products. WSJ, 14 Nov. 2023 The effect of this combination, a mash-up of urgency and complacency — imperturbable emergency? — is dreamlike and a bit maddening, perhaps like Cassandra shouting her warning to the gullible Trojans. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Yes, and, George, there's a saying, complacency kills. ABC News, 8 Oct. 2023 Even those who had not been lulled into complacency were shocked, however, by the outbreak of the devastating war that has been raging since Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7. Salam Fayyad, Foreign Affairs, 27 Oct. 2023 Some Republicans worry that their voters have been lulled into a false sense of complacency about the challenge of beating a Democratic incumbent president. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, 20 Aug. 2023 And she’s not nearly done, as evidenced by her willingness to take risks and shake up her routine instead of falling into the tempting but dangerous trap of complacency. Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2023 The resemblance seems obvious – then and now, Israelis witnessed catastrophic intelligence and operational blunders that cost so many lives due to complacency and arrogance. Avner Cohen, The Conversation, 14 Oct. 2023 As in 1973, the war shattered a feeling of complacency in the Jewish state—five decades ago because of the stunning success of the Six Day War; today because of the nation’s remarkable missile-defense system, the Iron Dome. Meir Soloveichik, WSJ, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'complacency.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see complacent

First Known Use

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of complacency was in 1650

Dictionary Entries Near complacency

Cite this Entry

“Complacency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


com·​pla·​cen·​cy kəm-ˈplās-ᵊn-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio)

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