com·​plect·​ed kəm-ˈplek-təd How to pronounce complected (audio)
: having a specified facial complexion
a tall, thin man, fairly dark complectedE. J. Kahn
often used in combination
Usage of Complected

Not an error, nor a dialectal term, nor nonstandard—all of which it has been labeled—complected still manages to raise hackles. It is an Americanism, almost nonexistent in British English. Its currency in American English is attested as early as 1806 (by Meriwether Lewis) and it appears in the works of such notable American writers as Mark Twain, O. Henry, James Whitcomb Riley, and William Faulkner. The synonym complexioned, recommended by handbooks, appears now to be somewhat more common than complected in both literary and journalistic use.

Examples of complected in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Police say that one witness reported possibly seeing a light complected male standing outside of Russell's car. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 15 July 2023 More: More than 2,200 coronavirus cases in Michigan nursing homes; statewide data coming today The driver who fled was described as a light-complected black man, between the ages of 18-22, wearing green sweatpants, according to police findings. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 26 Apr. 2020 The likelihood of conviction and the length of a criminal sentence has been linked to how attractive, modest, or even light-complected defendants look. Nadra Nittle, Vox, 31 Oct. 2018 He was described as a light-complected black male in his early 20s who was wearing all blue clothing. Toriano Porter,, 23 June 2017 Here, in the midst of uncomplicated prettiness, stands the 5,500-square-foot rough-complected gray concrete cube, its presence both a rebuke to the area’s bourgeois pretensions as well as a reminder of its recent totalitarian history. Gisela Williams, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2016

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

Word History


complect- (taken as base of complexion) + -ed entry 1

First Known Use

1785, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of complected was in 1785

Dictionary Entries Near complected

Cite this Entry

“Complected.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

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