com·​pli·​ment | \ ˈkäm-plə-mənt How to pronounce compliment (audio) \

Definition of compliment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration especially : an admiring remark
b : formal and respectful recognition : honor
2a compliments plural : best wishes : regards accept my compliments compliments of the season
b 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


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

Definition of compliment (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

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Synonyms for compliment

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That's maybe the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me (laughs). Steve Baltin, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Finally, being called a hostess, a compliment at one time, had come to confer a certain sense of frivolity on one’s reputation. Sally Quinn, Washington Post, 17 May 2021 Here's the ultimate compliment to Evason, besides the win-loss record: His team is fun to watch. Star Tribune, 8 May 2021 The 10 House bills on the table compliment two criminal justice bills addressing doxxing and mugshots. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, 9 Apr. 2021 The 31-point, seven-assist performance was the closing act on a season so good that writers around the state bestowed upon her the ultimate compliment: state player of the year. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 Mar. 2021 DeLeone said Spielman's playing experience is a good compliment to his more traditional background as a coach. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 30 Sep. 2021 Jackson dropped the ultimate compliment when he was asked about Garrett publicly challenging his fellow defensive linemen Friday to step up and capitalize when offenses are double-teaming or chipping him. Nate Ulrich, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2021 The disappointment is in a very real way a compliment. John Tamny, Forbes, 22 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Customers are extremely supportive and continue to compliment us on our product line and store layout. Tyler Carter, Dallas News, 1 Oct. 2021 When asked whether Wu would be a good mayor, Essaibi George did not compliment her rival., 30 Sep. 2021 Koepka did compliment DeChambeau and his powerful transformation that has taken him to new, eye-popping distances on the PGA Tour. Steve Dimeglio, USA TODAY, 6 Oct. 2021 And finally, the company will continue to open local showrooms to both compliment and expand its digital reach. Pamela N. Danziger, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 The animals’ doings are expressed in rhyming poems that Jonathan fabricated, sometimes to compliment Joshua’s drawings. Yadira Sanchez Olson,, 16 June 2021 Rihanna‘s look consisted of the oversized Balenciaga cape gown, a dark lip to compliment the vibe of her ensemble, and a black knit beanie over a diamond headpiece and matching necklace. D'shonda Brown, Essence, 14 Sep. 2021 Find reasons to compliment those on the front line dealing with the public. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 28 Aug. 2021 Regardless, Drew's fans all took to the comments section to compliment the 50 First Dates star's look. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, 19 Aug. 2021

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


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for compliment

Noun and Verb

Middle French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir to be courteous — more at comply

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Time Traveler for compliment

Time Traveler

The first known use of compliment was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near compliment




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Statistics for compliment

Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compliment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for compliment



English Language Learners Definition of compliment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a remark that says something good about someone or something
: an action that expresses admiration or approval



English Language Learners Definition of compliment (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say nice things about (someone or something) : to pay a compliment to (someone or something)


com·​pli·​ment | \ ˈkäm-plə-mənt How to pronounce compliment (audio) \

Kids Definition of compliment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or expression of praise, approval, respect, or admiration
2 compliments plural : best wishes Please accept this with my compliments.


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

Kids Definition of compliment (Entry 2 of 2)

: to express praise, approval, respect, or admiration to

Choose the Right Synonym for compliment


compliment, praise, and flatter mean to express approval or admiration to someone personally. compliment is used of a courteous or pleasant statement of admiration. He complimented students on their neat work. praise may be used when the statement of approval comes from a person in authority. The boss praised us for doing a good job. flatter is used of complimenting a person too much and especially insincerely. We flattered the teacher in the hope of getting better grades.

More from Merriam-Webster on compliment

Nglish: Translation of compliment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compliment for Arabic Speakers


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