complementary

adjective
com·​ple·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈmen-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce complementary (audio) \

Definition of complementary

1 : serving to fill out or complete … their economies are more complementary than competitive …— William Petersen
2 : mutually supplying each other's lack … the complementary relationship that binds the two.— Colin S. Gray
3 : relating to or constituting one of a pair of contrasting colors that produce a neutral color when combined in suitable proportions
4 : being complements of each other complementary acute angles
5 : characterized by the capacity for precise pairing of purine and pyrimidine bases between strands of DNA and sometimes RNA such that the structure of one strand determines the other
6 : of, relating to, or based on complementary medicine Cancer, for example, might be treated by blending the best of the Western medicine … with complementary approaches that could include … acupuncture, nutrition, herbs and massage.— Julie Deardorff

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Other Words from complementary

complementarily \ ˌkäm-​plə-​ˈmen-​t(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce complementarily (audio) , -​(ˌ)men-​ˈter-​ə-​lē , -​ˈta-​rə-​ \ adverb
complementariness \ ˌkäm-​plə-​ˈmen-​t(ə-​)rē-​nəs How to pronounce complementariness (audio) \ noun
complementary noun

Examples of complementary in a Sentence

… hot and sour soup encapsulates the Taoist principle central to Chinese culture: yin and yang, the notion of balancing the universe's opposing yet complementary forces. — Rebecca Hays, Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2006 Once Austin got used to what he had on, Jerry was going to talk him into a neck scarf of complementary colors and a cream pullover. — Alice Munro, Atlantic, January 1990 Vann and Ellsberg were the odd couple, difficult men from different worlds satisfying complementary needs in each other. — Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988 … it was becoming more and more clear to him that Miss Bart herself possessed precisely the complementary qualities needed to round off his social personality. — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905 She wore a new outfit with a complementary scarf. My spouse and I have complementary goals.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The rest of the collection comes in complementary shades of sky blue, plus your classic, go-with-everything white and black. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Kylie Jenner's New Reveal Your Voice Adidas Collection is Inspired By Her Favorite Lip Kit Color," 13 Mar. 2019 Newton and Parker took the red carpet by storm in complementary red and green velvet gowns. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Thandie Newton and Her 14-Year-Old Daughter Nico Parker Basically Look Like Twins," 12 Mar. 2019 An array of orbs in complementary colors hangs from the dining room light. Al Kemp, The Seattle Times, "How I came to grips with a downsized Christmas," 12 Dec. 2018 And will green be the new complementary color for mothers and the rest of the bridal party? Marianne Rohrlich, New York Times, "How the Royal Wedding Might Influence Weddings to Come," 22 May 2018 Cars use cameras and lidars and radars because these three sensor types have complementary strengths. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "This lidar/camera hybrid could be a powerful addition to driverless cars," 4 Sep. 2018 The teams will also argue that the telescopes have complementary strengths. Eric Hand, Science | AAAS, "Rival giant telescopes join forces to seek U.S. funding," 21 May 2018 Those molecules also like to pair up with their respective complements: A with T, and C with G. Any sequence of bases will naturally self-assemble with a complementary sequence—ATTAGCA, for instance, will pair with TAATCGT. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Caltech scientists use DNA tiles to play tic-tac-toe at the nanoscale," 29 Dec. 2018 Classics Advanced Track Jacket, $70 If matchy-matchy isn't your style, get the complementary track jacket in bright blue. Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "Cardi B Partnered With Reebok—Here Are 6 Ways to Get Her Throwback '90s Look," 9 Nov. 2018

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

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for complementary

see complement entry 1

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Statistics for complementary

Last Updated

6 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complementary

The first known use of complementary was in 1829

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More Definitions for complementary

complementary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of complementary

: completing something else or making it better : serving as a complement
used of two things when each adds something to the other or helps to make the other better
: going together well : working well together

complementary

adjective
com·​ple·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈmen-tə-rē How to pronounce complementary (audio) \

Kids Definition of complementary

: serving to make whole or improve something Their complementary talents make them a great team.

complementary

adjective
com·​ple·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈment-ə-rē, -ˈmen-trē How to pronounce complementary (audio) \

Medical Definition of complementary

1 : relating to or constituting one of a pair of contrasting colors that produce a neutral color when combined in suitable proportions
2 : characterized by molecular complementarity especially : characterized by the capacity for precise pairing of purine and pyrimidine bases between strands of DNA and sometimes RNA such that the structure of one strand determines the other

Other Words from complementary

complementarily \ -​ˈmen-​trə-​lē, -​(ˌ)men-​ˈter-​ə-​lē, -​ˈment-​ə-​rə-​lē How to pronounce complementarily (audio) \ adverb
complementariness \ -​ˈment-​ə-​rē-​nəs, -​ˈmen-​trē-​ How to pronounce complementariness (audio) \ noun

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Comments on complementary

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