com·​ple·​men·​tar·​i·​ty ˌkäm-plə-(ˌ)men-ˈter-ə-tē How to pronounce complementarity (audio)
: the quality or state of being complementary
: the complementary relationship of theories explaining the nature of light or other quantized radiation in terms of both electromagnetic waves and particles

Examples of complementarity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Recommended For many climate campaigners and non-governmental organizations, renewables and coal are seen as simple substitutes, but officials have focused on their complementarity in the short to medium term. John Kemp, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Feb. 2024 At the core of quantum physics is the idea of complementarity, which describes how objects have conflicting properties that cannot be observed at the same time. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 29 Dec. 2023 But in many places, under the gray sky, trees seemed mainly to demonstrate the complementarity of black and brown. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2023 Looking deeper into the numbers for an explanation, Jops and O’Dwyer found that a complex term called effective population size seemed useful for describing a kind of complementarity that could exist among species. Veronique Greenwood, Quanta Magazine, 26 June 2023 In a very real sense, the implication of complementarity is that things outside our horizon aren’t actually real — all that exists, from our point of view, are degrees of freedom inside the horizon, and on the horizon itself. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 21 Oct. 2011 The Firewall Maldacena’s duality and black hole complementarity seemed to dispel all the paradoxes, but many of the details had yet to be filled in. Joseph Polchinski, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2015 But if male and female are not normatively complementary and generatively significant, babies need not come from male and female complementarity. Kyle Munkittrick, Discover Magazine, 1 Mar. 2011 The complementarity of scale between the shows is, of course, founded on opposition: small and big. Mark Feeney,, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


complementary + -ity

First Known Use

1911, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of complementarity was in 1911

Dictionary Entries Near complementarity

Cite this Entry

“Complementarity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


com·​ple·​men·​tar·​i·​ty ˌkäm-plə-(ˌ)men-ˈtar-ət-ē, -mən- How to pronounce complementarity (audio)
plural complementarities
: correspondence in reverse of part of one molecule to part of another: as
: the arrangement of chemical groups and electric charges that enables a combining group of an antibody to combine with a specific determinant group of an antigen or hapten
: the correspondence between strands or nucleotides of DNA or sometimes RNA that permits their precise pairing
evolution of the contemporary genetic code involving purine-pyrimidine complementarityStruther Arnott & P. J. Bond
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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