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 rise has been so significant that Wayfair has even curated a page of ornaments and other decor in complementary colors for a pink tree, such as matte black balls and glittery turquoise ribbons. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "Search Volume for Pink Christmas Trees Is Up 125% This Year," 6 Nov. 2019 Behr Paint’s 2020 color of the year is a soothing green called Back to Nature; complementary colors include Light Drizzle, Secret Meadow, Dragonfly and Bluebird. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Biophilic decor: Ways to bring the feel of nature indoors," 15 Oct. 2019 Being complementary will encourage others to do things your way. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, "Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2019," 17 Sep. 2019 Symbolizing the ancient Chinese principles of yin and yang that suggest opposing forces can actually be complementary, the candles display different hues, but nestle together perfectly to form the ultimate statement piece. Nikhita Mahtani, CNN Underscored, "Love your Himalayan salt lamp? Here's why you need a Himalayan salt candle holder," 2 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, Nevada coach Jay Norvell was complementary of Oregon, saying the Ducks secondary will be the best the Wolf Pack face and the size, speed and depth of UO’s roster was impressive. oregonlive, "Nevada ‘gave up’ at halftime against Oregon Ducks, Wolf Pack coach says Autzen Stadium ‘not the most intimidating atmosphere’," 10 Sep. 2019 The photographs in the series are complementary to the film, meant to give the spectator a chance to linger on the details and the stories contained in each frame. Megan K. Stack, The New Yorker, "Alex Prager is a photographer and filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles.," 1 Sep. 2019 In fact, most nicknames derived from my last name were complementary in nature. Sean Wellington, Essence, "Why I (Proudly) Took My Wife’s Last Name When We Got Married," 30 Aug. 2019 And its violent strand today is being fed by three distinct, but complementary, creeds. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Anchors and opinion writers call El Paso attack 'terror in America'," 5 Aug. 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

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for complementary

The first known use of complementary was in 1829

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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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