complacent

adjective
com·pla·cent | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt \

Definition of complacent 

1 : marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies : marked by complacency : self-satisfied a complacent smile

2 : complaisant sense 1 complacent flattery

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Other words from complacent

complacently adverb

Complaisant or Complacent?

The homophones complaisant and complacent are often confused - and no wonder. Not only do they look and sound alike, but they also both derive ultimately from Latin complacēre, meaning "to please greatly." Complacent usually means "self-satisfied" or "unconcerned," but it also shares with complaisant the sense of "marked by an inclination to please or oblige." This sense of complacent is an old one, but that hasn't kept language critics from labeling it as an error - and on the whole, modern writers do prefer complaisant for this meaning. Conversely, complaisant is sometimes mistakenly used in contexts such as "complaisant about injustices," where complacent, with its sense of "marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies," should go. One aid is to remember that with the preposition "about," you probably want complacent.

Examples of complacent in a Sentence

… I gazed at my mother's poised, beautiful profile as her face turned from side to side, calm or complacent, accepting what the route offered. —Donald Hall, Atlantic, October 1996 Mr. Davis organized his second great quintet in the mid-60's, but by then jazz had taken a new turn and many felt he had become passé, a complacent peacock. —Gary Giddins, New York Times Book Review, 15 Oct. 1989 … he hopes to break through the reader's complacent indifference, make him aware of his predicament, and force him to take sides. —Monroe K. Spears, American Ambitions, 1987 Lord Lathkill … was so completely unostentatious, so very willing to pay all the attention to me, and yet so subtly complacent, so unquestionably sure of his position. —D. H. Lawrence, The Complete Short Stories Volume III, (1922) 1981 The strong economy has made people complacent. We have grown too complacent over the years. We can't afford to be complacent about illiteracy.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Edwards is pleased, but not complacent, that well-known athletes including LeBron James and Richard Sherman are back in the social-justice arena. Jerry Brewer, chicagotribune.com, "In a time of chaos, 1968 was a breakout year for black athletes," 28 May 2018 MilkWood chef Glenn Dougan isn't one to be complacent in his work. Nancy Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Constantly evolving MilkWood helps shape Louisville's food scene," 19 June 2018 Somewhere in the middle of the game, Rupp warned his guys to not become complacent. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Shocking loss in 8 innings ends Deer Park’s reign as state champions," 12 May 2018 Level of draft need Moderate: The Bears aren’t desperate for help, but general manager Ryan Pace shouldn’t get complacent with the current collection of players. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "NFL draft position preview: Inside linebackers," 20 Apr. 2018 In the human world, Sargent’s father seems oddly complacent about a shifty art restorer who is making eccentric demands. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Meeting the People in the Paintings," 5 July 2018 People have been so complacent, so apathetic to politics, to what's happening in our government. Diane Guerrero, Teen Vogue, "Diane Guerrero: Why the Fourth of July Is a Time for Activism," 4 July 2018 As the SEC’s annual meetings begin in Destin, Fla., Saban seems relaxed, content, and yes, happy — don’t mistake that for complacent, ever — and ready, as always, to tackle the next challenge. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "Alabama coach Nick Saban happy but not satisfied, so 'the Process' and the Tide roll on," 28 May 2018 For the rest of the first half, the game swung wildly from end to end, rather supporting the theory that Europe’s elite, rendered complacent by their dominance of their domestic leagues, have forgotten how to defend. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Chaos, Controversy, Cristiano: Vulnerable Real Madrid Perseveres vs. Valiant Juventus," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complacent.' 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 complacent

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complacent

Latin complacent-, complacens, present participle of complacēre to please greatly, from com- + placēre to please — more at please

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Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for complacent

The first known use of complacent was in 1760

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More Definitions for complacent

complacent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of complacent

: satisfied with how things are and not wanting to change them

complacent

adjective
com·pla·cent | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt \

Kids Definition of complacent

: feeling or showing satisfaction and lack of worry or caution His team became complacent in the second half and lost the game.

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