com·​plai·​sant | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt How to pronounce complaisant (audio) , -zᵊnt; ˌkäm-plā-ˈzant, -plə-, -ˈzänt \

Definition of complaisant

1 : marked by an inclination to please or oblige
2 : tending to consent to others' wishes

Other Words from complaisant

complaisantly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for complaisant

amiable, good-natured, obliging, complaisant mean having the desire or disposition to please. amiable implies having qualities that make one liked and easy to deal with. an amiable teacher not easily annoyed good-natured implies cheerfulness or helpfulness and sometimes a willingness to be imposed upon. a good-natured girl who was always willing to pitch in obliging stresses a friendly readiness to be helpful. our obliging innkeeper found us a bigger room complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding to others because of weakness. was too complaisant to protest a decision he thought unfair

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 complaisant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Abe, who hosted Trump in Tokyo a month ago and has been as complaisant as any world leader in courting the unpredictable U.S. president, has little to show for his efforts. Tracy Wilkinson,, 26 June 2019 Chief executives of the territory have become steadily more complaisant to China’s wishes, say critics. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 21 June 2019 Greedy club owners and complaisant sportswriters contrived a persona for him as a mash-up of Li’l Abner and Paul Bunyan, a devoted family man and humble Hall of Famer. Edward Kosner, WSJ, 12 Apr. 2018 Onstage, there was absolutely nothing complaisant about her. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complaisant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of complaisant

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complaisant

French, from Middle French, from present participle of complaire to gratify, acquiesce, from Latin complacēre

Learn More About complaisant

Time Traveler for complaisant

Time Traveler

The first known use of complaisant was in 1638

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About complaisant

Dictionary Entries Near complaisant




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for complaisant

Cite this Entry

“Complaisant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on complaisant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for complaisant


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!