Complement and Compliment

What is the difference between complement and compliment?

To compliment means to give praise.
To complement means to enhance.

Compliment and Complement

There is often confusion over the words complement and compliment. They sound similar, but their meanings are very different.


A compliment is an expression of praise. For example:


A complement is an enhancement. A complement enhances something else or goes well with it. For example: Complement can also mean composition or make-up. (In this meaning, it is often seen in the term full complement, meaning the whole number.) For example:

The Verbs To Compliment and To Complement

The examples above all relate to nouns. However, both words exist as verbs.

Complimentary and Complementary

The adjectives complimentary and complementary also cause confusion.


Complimentary has two meanings. It means expressing praise or free. For example:


Complementary is used to describe things that combine to enhance an outcome. For example:

A Quick Test

Ways to Remember Compliment and Complement

Complement Also Means Composition Or Make-Up

A Short Video Explaining Compliment and Complement

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See Also

Glossary of easily confused words Glossary of common errors Glossary of grammatical terms What are nouns? What are verbs?