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com·​pli·​ment ˈkäm-plə-mənt How to pronounce compliment (audio)
: an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration
especially : an admiring remark
: formal and respectful recognition : honor
compliments plural : best wishes : regards
accept my compliments
compliments of the season
used in the phrase compliments of to identify the donor or source of a gift or free item or service
For less than $10, she gets transportation to the real-estate tycoon's casino, a voucher worth about $13 in cash, a meal ticket and a coupon good for $5 on her next visit—all compliments of the casino.Julie Amparano
often used ironically to identify the source of something that is not wanted
He received a speeding ticket, compliments of the state police.
Add two more games to the list of area basketball postponements this week, compliments of wintry weather.Marq Mitcham


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com·​pli·​ment ˈkäm-plə-ˌment How to pronounce compliment (audio)
complimented; complimenting; compliments

transitive verb

: to express esteem, respect, affection, or admiration to : to pay a compliment to
complimented the pianist on his performance
: to present with a token of esteem
complimented her with an honorary degree

Did you know?

Is it complement or compliment?

Today there is no overlap between the meanings of complement and compliment, as either nouns or verbs, but their similar spellings and pronunciations make them prime candidates for confusion. Despite the difference in their meanings, both complement and compliment have roots in the Latin word complēre which means “to complete.” Complement remains true to that origin in its spelling and in its meanings that have to do with completing or completion. Keep that connection in mind and there should be no question as to whether complement or compliment is the correct word to use in a given context.

Examples of compliment in a Sentence

Noun "The warden said he wouldn't let just anybody have a young swan, but he'd let you have one because you understand about birds, and he trusts you. That's quite a compliment, son." Mr. Beaver looked pleased. E. B. White, The Trumpet Of The Swan, (1970) 2000
Boys in the Midwest grow up without a word of praise, their parents fearful that a compliment might make them vain … Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance, 1991
Mallard scowled at him. He had never learned to receive compliment or expressions of gratitude gracefully. Dorothy Simpson, The Night She Died, 1981
The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours … Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. Abraham Lincoln, letter, 17 Aug. 1863
He told her he admired her paintings and she returned the compliment by saying that she was a fan of his sculptures. When customers recommend our company to friends and family members, we consider that to be the highest compliment we can get. Verb She was forever complimenting Ziba's exotic appearance and asking for her viewpoint on various international issues. Anne Tyler, Digging to America, 2006
… she had gotten a three-and-a-half-star review in the Nut County Reporter, complimenting her especially on her crème brûlée and her pork medallions … Jane Smiley, Good Faith, 2003
What a day. She had been winked at, complimented, given a gift, and now mistaken for the mysterious Alyce … Karen Cushman, The Midwife's Apprentice, 1995
Wilde would compliment him later: 'I have always regarded you as the best critic of my plays.' 'But I have never criticised your plays,' said Tree. 'That's why,' said Wilde. Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, (1984) 1988
complimented her on her election victory
Recent Examples on the Web
While scientific research is heavily data-reliant, reduction-based and requires ample analysis, incorporating traditional knowledge compliments and amplifies the conservation efforts, Talbot said. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 8 June 2024 Canady is one of college softball’s hardest throwers, routinely touching the mid-70s, but Allister and Kaneshiro, Stanford’s star catcher, praised the changeup as a perfect compliment to the heat. Justice Delos Santos, The Mercury News, 30 May 2024
In January, Musk complimented Dimon in a tweet after the bank boss said Donald Trump was right about the economy, immigration, and China. Sasha Rogelberg, Fortune, 2 June 2024 Biden also complimented the Chiefs coaches and players for consoling scared children during the shooting. Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star, 31 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for compliment 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'compliment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from French, Italian & Spanish; French, borrowed from Italian & Spanish; Italian complimento, borrowed from Spanish cumplimiento, complimiento "offer made solely for reasons of etiquette," earlier "abundance," from cumplir "to go along (with), meet the expectations (of), satisfy (obligations of courtesy)," earlier, "to carry out, execute, fulfill" + -miento -ment — more at comply

Note: In the seventeenth century the word was often spelled complement, and complement entry 1 was occasionally spelled compliment. Senses of complement current in early Modern English, as "any observance that tends to give completeness to the expression of worship, honour, reverence, or the like" (Oxford English Dictionary, first edition) tend to shade into compliment, so that it is difficult to know if authors recognized a difference between the words.


borrowed from French complimenter, derivative of compliment compliment entry 1

First Known Use


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of compliment was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near compliment

Cite this Entry

“Compliment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
com·​pli·​ment ˈkäm-plə-mənt How to pronounce compliment (audio)
: an expression of respect, affection, or admiration
especially : an admiring remark
plural : best wishes : regards


2 of 2 verb
com·​pli·​ment ˈkäm-plə-ˌment How to pronounce compliment (audio)
: to pay a compliment to
was complimented on his performance

More from Merriam-Webster on compliment

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