complementary

adjective
com·​ple·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈmen-t(ə-)rē \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from complementary

complementarily \ ˌkäm-​plə-​ˈmen-​t(ə-​)rə-​lē , -​(ˌ)men-​ˈter-​ə-​lē, -​ˈta-​rə-​ \ adverb
complementariness \ ˌkäm-​plə-​ˈmen-​t(ə-​)rē-​nəs \ 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 But according to a Facebook group (and complementary Twitter feed) gaining popularity, there’s another horror at the heart of every home: our toilets. Margaret Lin, Curbed, "This meme page curates the best of the internet’s ‘spooky toilets’," 5 Oct. 2018 Maddie wore a semi-sheer white button-up blouse, a red leather skirt with a cascading ruffle accent by DROMe, and complementary fiery red stilettos. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Maddie Ziegler Wore a DROMe Skirt to “Variety”’s Power Of Young Hollywood," 29 Aug. 2018 With these new complementary, yet casual, combos, designers are debating that question. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "The Suit is Being Radically Reinvented—With Comfort in Mind," 19 Sep. 2018 Part of that is due to the two diverging (yet complementary) directions things took. Hillary Brown, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Mid-Century Modern Design," 13 Sep. 2018 So complementary to Longreads, but also a bit different. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The tech industry needs to reckon with the dark side of advertising, WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg says," 2 Aug. 2018 But experts say the appeal sends a clear signal that the government, despite its court loss, will be aggressive on deals between companies with complementary businesses, known as vertical mergers. New York Times, "AT&T-Time Warner Deal Approval Gets Justice Department Challenge," 12 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of complementary

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for complementary

see complement entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about complementary

Share complementary

Statistics for complementary

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complementary

The first known use of complementary was in 1829

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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 \ adverb
complementariness \ -​ˈment-​ə-​rē-​nəs, -​ˈmen-​trē-​ \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on complementary

What made you want to look up complementary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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