complicate

1 of 2

verb

com·​pli·​cate ˈkäm-plə-ˌkāt How to pronounce complicate (audio)
complicated; complicating

transitive verb

1
: to make complex or difficult
2
: involve
especially : to cause to be more complex or severe
a virus disease complicated by bacterial infection
3
: to combine especially in an involved or inextricable manner

complicate

2 of 2

adjective

com·​pli·​cate ˈkäm-pli-kət How to pronounce complicate (audio)

Example Sentences

Verb Changing jobs now would complicate her life. a disease complicated by infection Adjective the kind of complicate machinery that is used in the field of robotics
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
But the group has been instrumental in the fight against ISIS since 2014 and has warned that a Turkish assault will complicate the fight against the militants. Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN, 30 Nov. 2022 The administration’s expressions of support for the protesters come as President Joe Biden is trying to ease tensions with Beijing and could complicate the dialogue between the two nations. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2022 That’s because boom-and-bust cycles in the popularity of specific names complicate the findings, the researchers say. Byelizabeth Pennisi, science.org, 28 Nov. 2022 Loss of amateur status or other rule violations, even in states that allow NIL deals for high schoolers, could keep athletes off the field, lowering visibility to scouts, or otherwise complicate college recruitment. Kit Ramgopal, NBC News, 27 Nov. 2022 Her scenes with such co-stars as Charlie Vickers (Halbrand) and Lloyd Owen (Captain Elendil) crackle with chemistry and bit by bit complicate Galadriel’s stony facade with flickers of amusement, humility and heartbreak. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Nov. 2022 Eberflus also acknowledged Fields’ mental and physical toughness plus his competitive desire could complicate their evaluations with the quarterback likely to push to play. Dan Wiederer, Chicago Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 Dozens of Native American tribes inhabit the Colorado River watershed, and their rights to water both complicate the crisis and offer possible solutions to it. Brandon Loomis, AZCentral.com, 20 Nov. 2022 The complexity of the international FTX empire, messy record keeping, unreliable statements and the anonymous nature of transactions on the blockchain complicate matters for investigators and prosecutors building cases. Ephrat Livni, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2022
Adjective
But the many other benefits of forests further complicate assessments, says biogeochemist William Schlesinger, professor emeritus at Duke University. BostonGlobe.com, 5 May 2022 Bring extra masks in case this happens, since a wet mask can be less effective and complicate breathing, according to the CDC. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 27 Apr. 2021 Spelling errors and the language barrier complicate matters too. Adam K. Raymond, Daily Intelligencer, 20 June 2018 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

earlier, "to fold together, intertwine, combine in an involved manner," borrowed from Medieval Latin complicātus, past participle of complicāre "to fold together, wrap around, envelop, interweave" — more at complicate entry 2

Adjective

borrowed from Medieval Latin complicātus, from past participle of complicāre "to fold together, wrap around, envelop, interweave," going back to Latin, "to fold together, fold up," from com- com- + plicāre "to fold, bend" — more at ply entry 3

First Known Use

Verb

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Adjective

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of complicate was in 1638

Dictionary Entries Near complicate

Cite this Entry

“Complicate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complicate. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

complicate

verb

com·​pli·​cate
ˈkäm-plə-ˌkāt
complicated; complicating
: to make or become complex or difficult

Medical Definition

complicate

transitive verb

com·​pli·​cate ˈkäm-plə-ˌkāt How to pronounce complicate (audio)
complicated; complicating
: to cause to be more complex or severe
a virus disease complicated by bacterial infection

More from Merriam-Webster on complicate

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