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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.

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Like most celebrities, there’s a part of him that is a little insecure and hungry for validation; even an offhand compliment about one of his performances seems to set him at ease. WIRED, 9 Jan. 2023 And that description is the highest compliment—it’s a truly beautiful line. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 14 Oct. 2022 So maybe Wally Szczerbiak meant it as a compliment all along?! Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 22 Dec. 2022 Marvel Snap is competitive accounting, a description obsessives like me will recognize as a compliment. Shannon Liao, Washington Post, 12 Dec. 2022 When people are applauding, that’s not always a compliment. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 11 Dec. 2022 Emancipation is far more visually stylized than most films of this genre, and that's unfortunately not a compliment. Craig D Lindsey, Chron, 9 Dec. 2022 Tomlin and singer-songwriter Audrey Assad compliment each other beautifully in this 2009 song. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 2 Dec. 2022 Two reds and a white wine compliment a variety of three summer sausages, six styles of cheese, two artisanal mustards, and two kinds of crackers. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 23 Nov. 2022
The Frogs needed another strong performance to compliment Miles’ game, and forward Chuck O’Bannon delivered. Charles Baggarly, Dallas News, 17 Mar. 2023 Whenever Tandy entered a room, crowds of people flocked to her, some just to say hello, some to ask for advice, and some to compliment her newest ideas implemented at the company. Olivia Evans, The Courier-Journal, 14 Mar. 2023 Shum made sure to grab supporting actress nominee Chau to compliment her bubblegum pink frock while chatting with friends. Leanne Italie, ajc, 13 Mar. 2023 This weekend isn’t just bringing us daylight saving time to once again wreck our sleeping habits, but also a few fresh deals to compliment some highlights from earlier this week that are still available. Sheena Vasani, The Verge, 11 Mar. 2023 Alongside the new standard finishes, Beosound A9 is fully customizable to compliment even the most eclectic interior. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 9 Mar. 2023 Rattan furniture is seen in many boho decor schemes and can easily compliment the relaxed aesthetic. Maria Sabella, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Feb. 2023 At the same time, Black Power is a rich chocolate waffle with bananas to compliment the chocolate and plantain ice cream. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 23 Dec. 2022 Incense and benzoin lend a spicy element that’s strong and masculine, but work to compliment the woods, not overpower them. Garrett Munce, Men's Health, 28 Feb. 2023 See More

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 1 Apr. 2023.

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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