Difference Wiki

Compliment vs. Complement: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 20, 2023
A "compliment" is a polite expression of praise, while a "complement" is something that completes or goes well with something.

Key Differences

"Compliment" and "complement" are commonly confused words in English because they sound similar, yet their meanings are distinct. A compliment refers to a kind or flattering remark made about someone or something. For instance, when someone says, "You have a beautiful voice," they are offering a compliment.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
On the other hand, "complement" relates to things that enhance or complete one another. It's about pairing items or concepts that go well together, creating a sense of wholeness or completion. For example, when someone states that a wine complements a dish, they are suggesting that the two pair harmoniously.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
To delve deeper, while "compliment" often arises in social contexts, signifying appreciation or admiration, "complement" frequently appears in various contexts, indicating enhancement or completion. The former focuses on praising attributes or actions, while the latter emphasizes synergy or cohesion between two elements.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
Another distinction arises from their roots. "Compliment" derives from the Latin word "complementum," denoting "completion" or "filling up," reflecting its essence of wholeness. Conversely, "compliment" has roots in the Spanish word "cumplir," suggesting the act of fulfilling a courtesy or obligation.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023
In summary, while both words are integral to English vocabulary, they serve different purposes. "Compliment" denotes admiration, and "complement" signifies enhancement or completion. Recognizing their unique contexts and implications can aid in their accurate usage.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A polite expression of praise or admiration.
Something that completes or pairs well with another.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Usage Context

Social interactions, expressing admiration.
Describing things that enhance or go well together.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Grammatical Function

Often used as a noun or verb.
Primarily used as a noun, sometimes as a verb.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Etymology

Derived from Spanish "cumplir".
Comes from Latin "complementum".
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Examples

"You look wonderful."
"Salt complements pepper."
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023
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Compliment and Complement Definitions

Compliment

A courteous expression of esteem or admiration.
I received a lovely compliment about my dress today.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Complement

Something that completes or goes perfectly with something.
The scarf is a perfect complement to her outfit.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Compliment

A note of admiration for someone's achievements or characteristics.
He gave her a compliment on her presentation skills.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Complement

The quantity or number required to make a group complete.
We have a full complement of staff today.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Compliment

A formal act of civility or respect.
The director paid her a compliment by personally thanking her.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Complement

Enhancing or emphasizing the qualities of another thing.
The sauce is a wonderful complement to the dish.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Compliment

An action or remark expressing praise or admiration.
His work received numerous compliments from the critics.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Complement

A thing that contributes additional features to something else.
The artwork is a complement to the room's decor.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Compliment

A gesture of goodwill or appreciation.
Sending flowers was a compliment to the host.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Complement

A word or word group that completes the predicate in a sentence.
In the sentence She is a doctor, a doctor is the complement.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Compliment

An expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 11, 2016

Complement

Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection
A sauce that is a fine complement to fish.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 11, 2016

Complement

The quantity or number needed to make up a whole
Shelves with a full complement of books.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 11, 2016

FAQs

Is "you did a good job" a compliment or complement?

It's a compliment, expressing praise.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can a dish have multiple complements?

Yes, many flavors or ingredients can complement a dish.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Are "compliment" and "complement" interchangeable?

No, "compliment" refers to praise, while "complement" denotes something that completes.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can "complement" be used in a sentence about color?

Yes, e.g., "Blue and orange are complement colors."
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Is saying "you complete me" a compliment?

Yes, it's a deep expression of admiration and affection.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

How do you use "complement" in a math context?

In set theory, the "complement" of a set A refers to elements not in A.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Does "complementary angle" relate to the word "complement"?

Yes, two angles are complementary if they sum up to 90 degrees.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Can software and hardware complement each other?

Yes, good software can complement the capabilities of the hardware.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

What's the opposite of complement in terms of color?

Opposite colors are often referred to as "complementary colors."
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Which is used more in fashion, compliment or complement?

"Complement" is often used to describe items that go well together, but both terms can be used in fashion contexts.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Is "with compliments" a correct phrase?

Yes, it's often used to convey greetings or regards.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Is "complimentary" related to "compliment"?

Yes, "complimentary" means given as a compliment or free of charge.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Can businesses give compliments?

Yes, businesses often compliment clients or partners for their achievements or collaborations.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Do "compliment" and "complement" have similar origins?

No, "compliment" comes from Spanish, while "complement" is from Latin.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can a person be a complement to another?

Yes, e.g., "They complement each other perfectly in their skills."
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Which is more common, compliment or complement?

"Compliment" is more common in everyday conversation, but both have their places.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Are there fixed phrases with "compliment"?

Yes, like "pay someone a compliment."
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

How should I respond to a compliment?

A simple "thank you" is often appropriate.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

What's the verb form of "complement"?

The verb form is "complement," as in "The wine complements the cheese."
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can music complement a mood?

Absolutely, e.g., "The soft music complemented the serene ambiance."
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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