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

Dress the walls with organic prints in complementary colors for a subtle, polished look. Mari-jane Williams, Washington Post, "To breathe new life into a tired family room, start with a stylish sectional," 8 Aug. 2019 The monochromatic trend throws away the stereotype of wearing complementary colors and creates a color or patterned compilation that oddly flows together. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Will Monochromatic Looks Become Fall's Biggest Trend?," 5 June 2019 And, as with complementary colors like blue and yellow, quarks pair with antiquarks to form colorless mesons. Quanta Magazine, "Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud," 27 Aug. 2014 Built around a drastic rift, the two sections of Waves use framing schemes, editing rhythms and palettes that are different yet complementary. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Waves': Film Review | Telluride 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 The relationship between movies and TV has always been both complementary and competitive. Judy Berman, Time, "Disney Has Reshaped the Movie Industry. Will Disney+ Do the Same for Television?," 29 Aug. 2019 That year, Auburn used Johnson as a complementary player out of the backfield and as an option in the slot. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Harold Joiner is settling in at running back, where Auburn wants to ‘let his talent shine’," 11 Aug. 2019 Many construction-management jobs now require a four-year degree in the field, but even those who are college-bound would benefit from real-world experience preceding and complementary to their academic education. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Worker Skills to Pay the Bills," 25 July 2019 There are tons of ways to build complementary and clashing pieces into an outfit, but there is no way to wear a jacket that will transform a cotton shirt into wool. Ali Bouzari, SFChronicle.com, "Housemade: The science behind a feast of flavor pairings at Kismet in Los Angeles," 12 July 2019

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

21 Sep 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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