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

Examples of comply in a Sentence

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 The rules would be so strict, the only way car makers could comply would be to sell a tremendous number of zero-emissions vehicles in a relatively short time frame. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 Depending on the area, owners may also need to consider including renewable energy sources, like solar power, in their HVAC systems to comply with renewable energy targets. Karl Pomeroy, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Should Oceanwide not comply by Feb. 17, presumably L.A. taxpayers will be stuck paying it. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Feb. 2024 Each complaint seeks an order forcing the company to comply with the city’s pay transparency law going forward, with no mention of financial penalties or damages. Chris Marr, Fortune, 14 Feb. 2024 The deadline to comply was recently extended – for the last time, say officials – to April 30. Mark Saludes, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Feb. 2024 When the Nazis ask Lelong for dresses for their wives and girlfriends, Dior objects but unhappily complies. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 Some of the children in Lovaas’s care were not served regular meals, only receiving spoonfuls of food, such as sherbet, as rewards for complying with commands. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 12 Feb. 2024 For every $1 spent to comply with the rules nationwide, up to $77 in human health benefits would accrue by in 2032, the agency said. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

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

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, and 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 1 Mar. 2024.

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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