[n. kom-pluh-muhnt; v. kom-pluh-ment]
1.something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2. the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3. either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart.
—Can be confused: complement, compliment, supplement
Complement, supplement both mean to make additions to something. To complement is to provide something felt to be lacking or needed; it is often applied to putting together two things, each of which supplies what is lacking in the other, to make a complete whole: Two statements from different points of view may complement each other. To supplement is merely to add to: Some additional remarks may supplement his address.
Complement and compliment, which are pronounced alike and originally shared some meanings, have become separate words with entirely different meanings. As a noun, complement means “something that completes or makes perfect”: The rare old brandy was a perfect complement to the delicious meal. As a verb, complement means “to complete”: A bright scarf complements a dark suit. The noun compliment means “an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration”: The members paid her the compliment of a standing ovation. The verb compliment means “to pay a compliment to”: Everyone complimented him after the recital.
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