com·​plex·​i·​ty | \ kəm-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce complexity (audio) , käm- \
plural complexities

Definition of complexity

1 : something complex the complexities of the murder trial
2 : the quality or state of being complex the complexity of the contract

Examples of complexity in a Sentence

He was impressed by the complexity of the music. The diagram illustrates the complexity of the cell's structure. He doesn't grasp the complexity of the situation.
Recent Examples on the Web In Mantel’s hands the past became a shimmering, visceral present, populated by humans of the most acute psychological complexity. Mary Ann Gwinn, Los Angeles Times, 24 Sep. 2022 But adopting the sports angle allowed the team to hit two seemingly contradictory objectives: adding the Core (the game’s giant hockey puck) made the game easier to understand, and also introduced an extra layer of mechanical complexity. Jonathan Lee, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2022 In their specificity and emotion, the recollections here are alive with a complexity that defies labels. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Sep. 2022 Chefs Ryan Williamson and Brandon Carter have a talent for taking pristine ingredients and adding layers of complexity that always highlight, rather than hide, a dish’s core flavors. The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors, Bon Appétit, 8 Sep. 2022 In the face of this formidable complexity, a new study led by Jason Box at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland opts for a simple approach to projecting Greenland's future. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, 30 Aug. 2022 During a dynamic state of higher complexity and high uncertainty, many of the current approaches to success fail. Lysander Weiss, Forbes, 25 Aug. 2022 On top of the unexpected complexity, the scientists had trouble determining the species of microbes. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 24 July 2022 That’s well ahead of SMIC’s established 14nm technology, a measure of fabrication complexity in which narrower transistor widths help produce faster and more efficient chips. Jenny Leonard,, 21 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complexity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of complexity

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complexity

complex entry 2 + -ity, perhaps after French complexité

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Time Traveler for complexity

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The first known use of complexity was in 1661

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Dictionary Entries Near complexity



complexity theory

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Statistics for complexity

Last Updated

30 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Complexity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for complexity


com·​plex·​i·​ty | \ kəm-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce complexity (audio) \
plural complexities

Kids Definition of complexity

1 : the quality or condition of being difficult to understand or of lacking simplicity the complexity of a problem
2 : something difficult to understand or lacking simplicity the complexities of business

More from Merriam-Webster on complexity

Nglish: Translation of complexity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complexity for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about complexity


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