com·​ply kəm-ˈplī How to pronounce comply (audio)
complied; complying

intransitive verb

: to conform, submit, or adapt (as to a regulation or to another's wishes) as required or requested
comply with federal law
the devices comply with industry standards
obsolete : to be ceremoniously courteous

Example Sentences

I asked the waitress to refill my coffee cup and she happily complied. There will be penalties against individuals who fail to comply.
Recent Examples on the Web Penalties for schools that don't comply include removal of school officers in addition to loss of state aid. Andrew Legare, USA TODAY, 20 Nov. 2022 The law allows exemptions for companies that comply with the EPA’s standards or fall below a certain emissions threshold. Matthew Daly And Seth Borenstein,, 11 Nov. 2022 Bankers said Rocket’s internal loan software would flag any loans that don’t comply. Ben Eisen, WSJ, 31 Oct. 2022 Motors that comply with the standards have a sticker saying so. Bryan Hendricks, Arkansas Online, 30 Oct. 2022 Officials are promising government payments of 100,000 rubles (about $1,600) and housing certificates to purchase an apartment for those who comply. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2022 Those who do not comply face a €1,500 ($1,480) fine. Alice Hearing, Fortune, 19 Oct. 2022 Those who do not comply are seen as traitors and are separated from their children. Kimmy Yam, NBC News, 5 Oct. 2022 After the ruling, New York and other states have moved to pass new gun restrictions that comply with the decision. Dave Collins, ajc, 30 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


earlier, "to accommodate oneself (to), go along (with), meet the expectations (of), satisfy (obligations of courtesy)," borrowed from Spanish cumplir in this sense, from the earlier transitive senses "carry out, execute, fulfill," going back, with conjugation change, to Latin complēre "to fill" — more at complete entry 1

Note: The verb comply appears more likely to have been borrowed directly from Spanish rather than via Italian (pace the Oxford English Dictionary, first edition). Its use in literate discourse may have grown out of the vogue for Spanish romances that began with The mirrour of princely deedes and knighthood, a translation by Margaret Tyler of Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra's Espejo de príncipes y caballeros that was first printed in 1578. An early example of comply in the relevant sense occurs in another translation of Espejo, by "R.P." (Robert Parry or Parke), printed about 1586: "that the counsaile which you doe aske of your nobles & subiects, is more to complie with them, than anie good will you haue to be counsailed" (The third part of the first booke, of the Mirrour of knighthood). The form of the verb shows assimilation to other verbs ending in -ply, as apply, imply, reply entry 1, supply entry 1 (which, excepting the last, are not etymologically related).

First Known Use

1602, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of comply was in 1602

Dictionary Entries Near comply

Cite this Entry

“Comply.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



com·​ply kəm-ˈplī How to pronounce comply (audio)
complied; complying
: to act in agreement with another's wishes or in obedience to a rule
comply with a request

More from Merriam-Webster on comply

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