complement, compliment, complementary, complimentary
1. Complement and compliment each function as noun and verb; in pronunciation they are largely indistinguishable except that in the verbal function compliment has a fuller -i- sound in its second syllable and both words have a more distinct -ment sound in the third syllable. Both words are derived from Latin complere ‘to fill up’; complement means ‘something that completes’ and should be distinguished from supplement which means ‘something that adds to’. A compliment is ‘a spoken or written expression of praise’.
2. The derivative adjectives have corresponding meanings. Complimentary means ‘expressing a compliment’ and has the additional meaning ‘given free of charge’ (e.g.complimentary tickets). (Complementary means ‘completing’ or ‘forming a complement’:

• Chelsea Theatre is a small yet dynamic new writing theatre enriched by a complementary programme of arts activities —theatre reviews website, 2004 [OEC])

and has a special use in the context of medical therapy that falls outside the scope of scientific medicine but supports it (e.g. acupuncture and osteopathy).

Modern English usage. 2014.


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  • complimentary — com‧pli‧men‧ta‧ry [ˌkɒmplˈmentri◂ ǁ ˌkɑːm ] adjective MARKETING complimentary food, goods, services etc are given free to customers or clients: • You will receive a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival at your hotel. * * * complimentary UK… …   Financial and business terms

  • Complimentary — Com pli*men ta*ry, a. Expressive of regard or praise; of the nature of, or containing, a compliment; as, a complimentary remark; a complimentary ticket. Complimentary addresses. Prescott. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • complimentary — [adj1] flattering adulatory, appreciative, approbative, approbatory, approving, celebrating, commendatory, congratulatory, courtly, encomiastic, encomiastical, eulogistic, fair spoken, fawning, highly favorable, honeyed, honoring, laudatory,… …   New thesaurus

  • complimentary — [käm΄plə men′tə rē] adj. 1. paying or containing a compliment; expressing courtesy, respect, admiration, or praise 2. given free as a courtesy [a complimentary ticket] complimentarily [käm΄pləmen′te rə lē] adv …   English World dictionary

  • Complimentary — may refer to: Compliment (disambiguation) Free of charge See also Complementary (disambiguation) This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an …   Wikipedia

  • complimentary — index free (at no charge), gratis, gratuitous (given without recompense), unsolicited Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • complimentary — 1620s, conveying a compliment, from COMPLIMENT (Cf. compliment) + ARY (Cf. ary). In later use loosely meaning free of charge …   Etymology dictionary

  • complimentary — ► ADJECTIVE 1) expressing a compliment; praising or approving. 2) given free of charge …   English terms dictionary

  • complimentary — [[t]kɒ̱mplɪme̱ntəri[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED: usu v link ADJ If you are complimentary about something, you express admiration for it. The staff have been very complimentary, and so have the customers... We often get complimentary remarks regarding the… …   English dictionary

  • complimentary — com|pli|men|ta|ry [ˌkɔmplıˈmentəri US ˌka:m ] adj 1.) given free to people ▪ There was a complimentary bottle of champagne in the hotel room. ▪ I ve got some complimentary tickets for the theatre tonight. 2.) saying that you admire someone or… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • complimentary — adjective 1 expressing admiration, praise or respect: Your teacher made some very complimentary remarks about your work. (+ about): Donleavy was highly complimentary about Coleman s work. 2 given free to people: There was a complimentary bottle… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English