com·​pla·​cen·​cy | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn(t)-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio) \
plural complacencies

Definition of complacency

1 : self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.
2 : an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction

Examples of complacency in a Sentence

He sees a dangerous sense of complacency about the U.S. stock market—where investors were emboldened after the 1998 downturn was followed by a resounding snapback. — Bernard Wysocki, Jr., Wall Street Journal, 3 Aug. 1999 He spoke, however, with resignation, even complacency, rather than anguish. — Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and The Mermaid, 1997 … you say to yourself, "OK, why did it happen? Why did we make those bad engineering decisions we made in 1967 and 1986 with Challenger?" I'll tell you. It's the human element. And I suggest that there's a complacency there that comes from success. — Alan Shepard, Yankee, October 1991 Tony Brace lived in Richmond, in circumstances of impeccable domestic content. Matthew and Susan had visited, in the early days of their marriage; driving home, they had mocked the décor and the connubial complacency. — Penelope Lively, City Of The Mind, 1991 The public was lulled into complacency. a momentary complacency that was quickly dispelled by the shock of cold reality See More
Recent Examples on the Web Its members met in a living room a couple of weeks ago to discuss future plans, including how to confront that central threat to democracy, complacency. New York Times, 10 July 2022 Its members met in a living room a couple of weeks ago to discuss future plans, including how to confront that central threat to democracy: complacency. Dan Barry,, 10 July 2022 One answer to this is to monitor the driver to reduce complacency. Brad Templeton, Forbes, 21 June 2022 Winning often can breed complacency, but Ryan Nash is an example of the polar opposite. Franco Panizo, Sun Sentinel, 18 June 2022 Her solution to the problem of sheriff’s gangs is to rotate deputies between the 23 stations, under the assumption that allowing people to work in a place for too long can create an insular culture that’s resistant to change and breeds complacency. Libor Janystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2022 Jeff Bezos to encourage innovation and avoid complacency. Georgia Wells, WSJ, 6 May 2022 The actors are nimble with Letts’ mordant, deceptively situational humor, and in embodying their characters’ chilling complacency. Naveen Kumar, Variety, 17 Apr. 2022 Modern degradation has also left citizens angry, fed up with what often feels like complacency in what is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Barbie Latza Nadeau With Hada Messia, CNN, 19 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of complacency

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complacency

see complacent

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Time Traveler for complacency

Time Traveler

The first known use of complacency was in 1650

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Complacency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for complacency


com·​pla·​cen·​cy | \ kəm-ˈplā-sᵊn-sē How to pronounce complacency (audio) \

Kids Definition of complacency

: a feeling of being satisfied with the way things are and not wanting to make them better

More from Merriam-Webster on complacency

Nglish: Translation of complacency for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complacency for Arabic Speakers


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