adjective com·plai·sant \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊnt , -zᵊnt ; ˌkäm-plā-ˈzant , -plə- , -ˈzänt \
Updated on: 17 Jan 2018

Definition of complaisant

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



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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.

Origin and Etymology of complaisant

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

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of complaisant for English Language Learners

  • : willing or eager to please other people : easily convinced to do what other people want

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something that impedes or restrains

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