complacent

adjective
com·​pla·​cent | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt How to pronounce complacent (audio) \

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

Bye-bye harassment: Musicians take a stand for festival safety Tired of complacent attitudes at shows, millennial artists bolstered by #MeToo are stepping up with harassment solutions for festivals like Coachella. Christian Science Monitor, "The Culture | Music," 7 June 2019 One element in the seemingly complacent reaction of international financiers to the February Revolution was a desire to help the liberal reformers. Andrew Stuttaford, WSJ, "‘Bankers and Bolsheviks’ Review: The Red Ink of Red October," 22 Jan. 2019 The core problem of the Great Recession, looking back, is precisely that Lucas’s complacent forecast really did seem sensible at the time. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The Great Recession was awful. And we don’t have a plan to stop the next one.," 16 Oct. 2018 That complacent form has continued into their tournament preparations. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Colombia vs Japan - Recent Form, Classic Encounter, Team News & More," 18 June 2018 Markets are complacent about the Italian elections, a Bloomberg editorial argues. Gregory Viscusi, Bloomberg.com, "Five Star’s Italian Rivals Pounce as Pay Pledge Backfires," 14 Feb. 2018 But perhaps feeling complacent after beating Germany in the semifinals, France flopped. Graham Dunbar, courant.com, "A Youthful France Faces Veteran-Laden Croatia For World Cup," 14 July 2018 In the frenzy, some companies became complacent, assuming growth would be endless and easy to capture, according to Mr. Gong and other analysts. WSJ, "China’s Car Slump Leaves Foreign Auto Makers With Idle Factories," 25 Dec. 2018 Equally, when investors are complacent and piling on risk, they can be shocked if the news isn’t uniformly perfect. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Investors Go From Overoptimistic to Sort of Pessimistic," 21 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for complacent

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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

complacent

adjective
com·​pla·​cent | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt How to pronounce complacent (audio) \

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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Comments on complacent

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