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 For the Kinder Building, Holl aimed for a complementary contrast. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "Houston's Museum of Fine Arts Is Proof That Everything Really Is Bigger In Texas," 23 Oct. 2020 The duo's complementary skills have been established: Where 6-foot-5, 210-pound Johnson is dangerous in the open court and has more size, the 6-1, 185-pound Jones is an elite shooter who’s excellent in pick-and-rolls. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "Hectic freshman season has Louisville's David Johnson eager for sophomore campaign," 22 Oct. 2020 Amid a minus-8 turnover margin, there has been a lack of complementary football. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "‘This is why I wanted to be here’: Andy Dalton’s ready to lead the Cowboys, but he shouldn’t have to carry them, too," 19 Oct. 2020 Many jobs legitimately require a bachelor’s degree or even higher, which means eliminating degree inflation and increasing four-year college completion among these traditionally underrepresented groups are complementary, not competing, objectives. Michael Collins, Fortune, "Are college degree requirements holding Black job seekers back?," 14 Oct. 2020 Yet, the Bengals rarely play complementary football. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, "Loss to Baltimore wasn't surprising because Bengals are in rebuilding process," 12 Oct. 2020 The wrong complementary pieces can take something from attention-grabbing and tastefully wackadoodle to just plain weird. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Lourdes Leon Shows the Right Way to Style a Statement Skirt," 11 Oct. 2020 Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been playing a complementary role lately, protecting the football and making good decisions, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 32 things to watch in Colts-Browns showdown," 10 Oct. 2020 When James returned to Cleveland a second time, Irving was the key complementary piece in initiating a championship run. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Ranking LeBron James' six best teammates throughout his career," 1 Oct. 2020

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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Learn More about complementary

Time Traveler for complementary

Time Traveler

The first known use of complementary was in 1829

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Statistics for complementary

Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Complementary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complementary. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for complementary

complementary

adjective
How to pronounce complementary (audio)

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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