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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The increased complexity of the characters and darkness of the show itself are great, but felt cheapened by an overly convoluted mystery. Rebecca Smith,, "Veronica Mars Goes To Hulu & Grows The F*ck Up," 15 July 2019 These complexities will be tricky to solve in the short term. The Economist, "An unhealthy tax change hits British hospitals," 9 July 2019 The complexity of gender is not the only reason that pronoun declarations are not going to infiltrate all offices with the same ease as, say, emojis, acronyms, and other additions to our lexicon. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "Those she/her/hers at the end of email messages are more than a passing trend," 24 June 2019 Of course, even in a relatively early work of his such as this one, a certain complexity of tones is just part of the Bard. San Diego Union-Tribune, "11 things to do in San Diego this weekend: San Diego Scottish Highland Games, Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-off, Old Globe’s ‘As You Like It’," 21 June 2019 Former Chief Charles Moose had set the four-year college degree standard in 1996, arguing that the complexities of the job demanded more education., "Police chief alters hiring standards for officers: high school diploma, GED sufficient; tattoos above collar and beards OK," 19 June 2019 The complexity of it all could leave consumers confused, said Laine Nooney, assistant professor and historian of video games at New York University. Shannon Liao, CNN, "Streaming gaming will change the video game industry. Here's why," 18 June 2019 Resounding and joyful, the rich complexity of its sound evokes the luminescence of Leonardo’s paintings—a musical sfumato with soft edges and lingering tones. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "Why Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliance endures, 500 years after his death," 12 June 2019 And mangroves are just one aspect of coastal ecosystems and economies—effective management will mean integration with seagrass systems, coral reefs and so on. The complexity is daunting. Adam Moolna, Quartz India, "How mangroves could protect us from storms like Cyclone Fani," 7 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of complexity

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complexity

see complex entry 2

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Statistics for complexity

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complexity

The first known use of complexity was in 1661

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More Definitions for complexity



English Language Learners Definition of complexity

: the quality or state of not being simple : the quality or state of being complex
: a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand


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

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Comments on complexity

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


characterized by aphorism

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