complacent, complaisant
have the same pronunciation apart from -s- in the first and -z- in the second. Both are derived from the Latin word complacere ‘to please’. Complacent means ‘calmly confident’ and normally has unfavourable connotations, i.e. ‘too easily satisfied; smugly self-confident’:

• A quarter of a century later, the conventional wisdom of British mandarins looks complacent, self-serving, ill-informed, and outmoded —Independent, 1989.

Complaisant means ‘politely deferential’ or ‘too willing to please’:

• He went north to join his apparently complaisant wife for Christmas and Liza went to Cornwall —P. Street, 1990.

It is no longer much used in ordinary speech and writing: obliging and acquiescent are more common alternatives.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • complaisant — complaisant, ante [ kɔ̃plɛzɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. • 1556; de complaire 1 ♦ Qui a de la complaisance (envers autrui). ⇒ aimable, empressé, obligeant, 1. poli, prévenant, serviable. Être, se montrer complaisant pour, envers qqn. Vous n êtes pas très… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • complaisant — COMPLAISANT, ANTE. adj. Qui a de la complaisance pour les autres. Un homme complaisant. Un esprit doux et complaisant. Humeur complaisante.Complaisant, est aussi substantif. Et dans cette acception l on dit, qu Un homme n aime que les… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • complaisant — complaisant, ante (kon plè zan, zan t ) adj. 1°   Qui a de la complaisance ou des complaisances.... •   S il m eût vaincu, votre esprit complaisant Lui faisait de ma tête un semblable présent, CORN. Pomp. III, 2. •   Et, comme c est m aimer que… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Complaisant — Com plai*sant, a. [F. complaisant, p. pr. of complaire to acquiesce as a favor, fr. L. complacere. See {Complacent}.] Desirous to please; courteous; obliging; compliant; as, a complaisant gentleman. [1913 Webster] There are to whom my satire… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • complaisant — Complaisant, [complais]ante. adj. v. Qui a de la complaisance pour les autres. Un homme complaisant. un esprit doux & complaisant. humeur complaisante …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • complaisant — 1640s, from Fr. complaisant (16c.), in M.Fr., pleasing, prp. of complaire acquiesce to please, from L. complacere be very pleasing (see COMPLACENT (Cf. complacent), with which it overlapped till mid 19c.). Possibly influenced in French by O.Fr.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • complaisant — index complacent, obedient, obeisant, permissive, yielding Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • complaisant — obliging, good natured, *amiable Analogous words: affable, genial, cordial, *gracious: courteous, courtly, gallant, polite, *civil: *suave, urbane, politic, diplomatic, smooth, bland: agreeable, *pleasant, pleasing Antonyms: contrary, perverse …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • complaisant — [adj] agreeable accommodating, amiable, compliant, conciliatory, deferential, easy, easy going, friendly, generous, good humored, good natured, good tempered, indulgent, lenient, mild, obliging, polite, solicitous, submissive; concept 401 Ant.… …   New thesaurus

  • complaisant — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ willing to please others or to accept their behaviour without protest. DERIVATIVES complaisance noun. ORIGIN French, from Latin complacere to please …   English terms dictionary

  • complaisant — [kəm plā′zənt, kəm plāsənt; ] also [ käm′plə zant΄] adj. [Fr, prp. of complaire < L complacere: see COMPLACENT] willing to please; affably agreeable; obliging complaisantly adv …   English World dictionary