com·​plex·​i·​ty | \ kəm-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce complexity (audio) , käm- \
plural complexities

Definition of complexity

1 : something complex the complexities of the murder trial
2 : the quality or state of being complex the complexity of the contract

Examples of complexity in a Sentence

He was impressed by the complexity of the music. The diagram illustrates the complexity of the cell's structure. He doesn't grasp the complexity of the situation.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The complexity in developing scalable AI solutions requires process change on the technical side. Glenn Gow, Forbes, 14 Nov. 2021 To strive for complexity would require the current financial logics of the Valley to tumble. Lisa Messeri, Wired, 12 Nov. 2021 Who had time to sit through a long narrative, to parse its meaning, to entertain complexity? Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2021 Despite the bill’s complexity, IPA officials and other stakeholders were given just three minutes each to address the committee, which was racing through its agenda to get to business associated with COVID-19 vaccines. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Nov. 2021 Over a modulated soul sample layered under stuttering, hyperactive drums, Tron makes easy work of the first beat’s complexity. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 10 Nov. 2021 There was a real complexity to the Maya in the book. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 9 Nov. 2021 In the years following the Nuttall Fire, wildfires increased in intensity and complexity. The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2021 That both men are living in the shadows of their fathers should complicate their relationship in fascinating ways, yet—in a particularly odd choice for a show that hinges on human psychology—Shrink shies away from complexity. Judy Berman, Time, 8 Nov. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of complexity

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complexity

see complex entry 2

Learn More About complexity

Time Traveler for complexity

Time Traveler

The first known use of complexity was in 1661

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near complexity



complexity theory

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for complexity

Last Updated

17 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Complexity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for complexity



English Language Learners Definition of complexity

: the quality or state of not being simple : the quality or state of being complex
: a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand


com·​plex·​i·​ty | \ kəm-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce complexity (audio) \
plural complexities

Kids Definition of complexity

1 : the quality or condition of being difficult to understand or of lacking simplicity the complexity of a problem
2 : something difficult to understand or lacking simplicity the complexities of business

More from Merriam-Webster on complexity

Nglish: Translation of complexity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complexity for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about complexity


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!