com·​pli·​ca·​tion | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈkā-shən \

Definition of complication

1a : complexity, intricacy especially : a situation or a detail of character complicating the main thread of a plot
b : a making difficult, involved, or intricate
c : a complex or intricate feature or element
d : a difficult factor or issue often appearing unexpectedly and changing existing plans, methods, or attitudes
2 : a secondary disease or condition developing in the course of a primary disease or condition

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Examples of complication in a Sentence

The negotiations stalled when complications arose. Pneumonia is a common complication of AIDS. She experienced complications during her pregnancy. The patient died of complications from surgery.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The overall risk of complications afterward is less than 5% says Ali Aminian, a bariatric surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "The Chef Who Left His Kitchen To Keep Off 200 Pounds," 1 Dec. 2018 Although the cause hasn't been confirmed, Bush had been battling a form of Parkinson's disease for years, and recently was in and out of the hospital due to a number of health complications. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "George H.W. Bush Has Died at Age 94," 1 Dec. 2018 The risk of maternal death and disability is higher after the procedure, recovery tends to be longer, and there’s a greater chance of complications in future births. Julia Belluz, Vox, "The troubling epidemic of unnecessary C-sections around the world, explained," 25 Oct. 2018 Those with weakened immune systems are at most risk of serious complications, but healthy individuals may experience watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "Swimmers warned after diarrhea-causing parasite confirmed in Illinois public pool," 19 Sep. 2018 Coolidge died suddenly of complications from heart disease in 1933, after returning from a half-day at work. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "For His Patriotic Birthday, Five Facts About Calvin Coolidge," 2 July 2018 Ross, 85, died June 21 as a result of complications from a brain injury two years ago. Elizabeth Finny, miamiherald, "He marched for civil rights — and wrote a song about pastrami. Sherwood Ross has died at 85," 1 July 2018 In 2009 another study for the WHO suggested that a simple checklist in eight hospitals in cities in eight countries cut the rate of death during surgery from 1.5% to 0.8%, and that of complications from 11% to 7%. The Economist, "Hospitals are learning from industry how to cut medical errors," 28 June 2018 Patty Doel died in 2006 of complications from a series of strokes, after relocating to Florida with husband John. Adam Carlson,, "Tara Calico Mystery: The True Story Behind Notorious Polaroid Showing a Girl and Boy Bound in a Van," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complication.' 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 complication

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for complication

The first known use of complication was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for complication



English Language Learners Definition of complication

: something that makes something harder to understand, explain, or deal with

medical : a disease or condition that happens in addition to another disease or condition : a problem that makes a disease or condition more dangerous or harder to treat


com·​pli·​ca·​tion | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈkā-shən \

Kids Definition of complication

: something that makes a situation more difficult


com·​pli·​ca·​tion | \ ˌkäm-plə-ˈkā-shən \

Medical Definition of complication

: a secondary disease or condition that develops in the course of a primary disease or condition and arises either as a result of it or from independent causes

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Comments on complication

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


to gather or build up little by little

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