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 code does not contain new rules on gifts but says that Justices should comply with the U.S. Judicial Conference’s regulations on gifts, which governs other federal judges. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2023 Companies that once pushed back now routinely comply, and nowhere has the shift been more notable than at Twitter. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 But amid early confusion, not all schools complied, and at least one parent said his child came home bearing plastic bags of debris from the fire that had blown onto the elementary school campus. Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2023 And others still, like Amazon and Tesla, are taking a decidedly less forgiving approach: Threatening to withhold promotions and tracking badge swipes to those who don’t comply with in-person mandates. Jane Thier, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 The decision document, dated Oct. 9, said Zakrzewski did not comply with the UKA Disciplinary Rules' code of conduct for senior athletes. Rebecca Cohen, NBC News, 17 Nov. 2023 Researchers began to observe inequitable results in the late 1970s as American public schools began evaluating more children to comply with the mandates for the EAHCA, since renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Sarah Carr, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2023 His operation has to comply with any limitations on agriculture that might be imposed, like the prohibition on open-air burning of farm waste that the air district adopted after years of demands from public health advocates. Lydia Depillis, New York Times, 13 Nov. 2023 The Mayor immediately complied with the FBI's request and provided them with electronic devices. Marcia Kramer, CBS News, 10 Nov. 2023 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 30 Nov. 2023.

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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