A complement is something that makes up a satisfying whole with something else. Those shiny red shoes you just bought complement your shiny red purse.

Complement comes from the Latin complementum, "something that fills up or completes." Complement keeps both the e and the meaning. It's also a verb; if you and your partner complement each other, you make a perfect pair. Something that complements completes or adds a little something.

Definitions of complement

n something added to complete or embellish or make perfect

“a fine wine is a perfect complement to the dinner”
Type of:
something added to another thing but not an essential part of it

n a complete number or quantity

“a full complement
Type of:
the total number counted

n number needed to make up a whole force

“a full complement of workers”
full complement
company, ship's company
crew of a ship including the officers; the whole force or personnel of a ship
Type of:
hands, manpower, men, work force, workforce
the force of workers available

n either of two parts that mutually complete each other

Type of:
counterpart, opposite number, vis-a-vis
a person or thing having the same function or characteristics as another

n a word or phrase used to complete a grammatical construction

Type of:
construction, expression, grammatical construction
a group of words that form a constituent of a sentence and are considered as a single unit

n one of a series of enzymes in the blood serum that are part of the immune response

Type of:
any of several complex proteins that are produced by cells and act as catalysts in specific biochemical reactions

v make complete or perfect; supply what is wanting or form the complement to

“I need some pepper to complement the sweet touch in the soup”
Type of:
balance, equilibrate, equilibrise, equilibrize
bring into balance or equilibrium

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