Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection.
  • noun The quantity or number needed to make up a whole.
  • noun The full crew of personnel required to run a ship.
  • noun Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.
  • noun An angle related to another so that the sum of their measures is 90°.
  • noun Grammar A word or words used to complete a predicate construction, especially the object or indirect object of a verb, for example, the phrase to eat ice cream in We like to eat ice cream.
  • noun Music An interval that completes an octave when added to a given interval.
  • noun Immunology A complex system of proteins found in normal blood plasma that combines with antibodies to destroy pathogenic bacteria and other foreign cells.
  • noun Mathematics & Logic For a universal set, the set of all elements in the set that are not in a specified subset.
  • noun A complementary color.
  • transitive verb To serve as a complement to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To add a complement to; complete or fill up.
  • noun In physiol. chem., same as alexin. See the extract.
  • noun Full quantity or number; full amount; complete allowance: as, the company had its complement of men; the ship had its complement of stores.
  • noun Perfect state; fullness; completeness.
  • noun What is needed to complete or fill up some quantity or thing; that which anything lacks of completeness or fullness: as, the complement of an angle (which see, below).
  • noun In music, the interval formed by the higher note and the note an octave above the lower note of a given simple interval.
  • noun That which is added, not as necessary, but as ornamental; an accessory; an appendage.
  • noun Compliment: a word of the same ultimate origin and formerly of the same spelling. See compliment.
  • noun An accomplishment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That which fills up or completes; the quantity or number required to fill a thing or make it complete.
  • noun That which is required to supply a deficiency, or to complete a symmetrical whole.
  • noun Full quantity, number, or amount; a complete set; completeness.
  • noun (Math.) A second quantity added to a given quantity to make it equal to a third given quantity.
  • noun obsolete Something added for ornamentation; an accessory.
  • noun (Naut.) The whole working force of a vessel.
  • noun (Mus.) The interval wanting to complete the octave; -- the fourth is the complement of the fifth, the sixth of the third.
  • noun obsolete A compliment.
  • noun See under Logarithm.
  • noun (Math.) the difference between that number and the next higher power of 10; as, 4 is the complement of 6, and 16 of 84.
  • noun (Geom.) the difference between that arc or angle and 90°.
  • noun (Math.) See Gnomon.
  • noun (Her.) said of the moon when represented as full.
  • transitive verb rare To supply a lack; to supplement.
  • transitive verb obsolete To compliment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun electronics A voltage level with the opposite logical sense to the given one.
  • noun computing A bit with the opposite value to the given one; the logical complement of a number.
  • noun computing, mathematics The diminished radix complement of a number; the nines' complement of a decimal number; the ones' complement of a binary number.
  • noun computing, mathematics The radix complement of a number; the two's complement of a binary number.
  • noun computing, mathematics The numeric complement of a number.
  • noun genetics A nucleotide sequence in which each base is replaced by the complementary base of the given sequence: adenine (A) by thymine (T) or uracil (U), cytosine (C) by guanine (G), and vice versa.
  • noun Obsolete spelling of compliment.
  • verb To complete, to bring to perfection, to make whole.
  • verb To provide what the partner lacks and lack what the partner provides.
  • verb To change a voltage, number, color, etc. to its complement.
  • verb Obsolete form of compliment..

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun something added to complete or embellish or make perfect
  • noun either of two parts that mutually complete each other

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin complēmentum, from complēre, to fill out; see complete.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin complementum ("that which fills up or completes"), from complere ("to fill up, complete"), with some senses from Old French.

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Examples

  • As the objective complement generally denotes what the receiver of the act is made to be, in fact or in thought, it is sometimes called the _factitive complement_ or the _factitive object_ (Lat. _facere_, to make).

    Higher Lessons in English A work on english grammar and composition

  • And if we’re testing “innate” intelligence, we’re obviously testing the wrong thing (s), because the freakin’ genetic complement is (essentially) unchanged throughout life. clarice: (2) You suggest we have enough examples of bad nurturing and we should do something about that.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » 1. Science, Faith, and Not Ruling Out Possibilities

  • Because a complement is not required/possible after an adverb?

    P is for Phrasal Verb « An A-Z of ELT

  • The complement is to separate a fish open as good as nail it to a board, which is afterwards placed in a immeasurable open grate to cook, as good as sizzle, as good as smell customarily smashing good.

    Philadelphia Reflections: Shakspere Society of Philadelphia

  • The complement is to separate a fish open as good as nail it to a board, which is afterwards placed in a immeasurable open grate to cook, as good as sizzle, as good as smell customarily smashing good.

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • A complement is needed to second-year CB Darrelle Revisy.

    '08 NFL draft: AFC team needs

  • CINCINNATI — Wide receiver Antonio Bryant was released on Sunday by the Cincinnati Bengals, who signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal last March thinking he would be their long-term complement to Chad Ochocinco.

    Antonio Bryant Released, But Still Makes $7 Million

  • CINCINNATI — Wide receiver Antonio Bryant was released on Sunday by the Cincinnati Bengals, who signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal last March thinking he would be their long-term complement to Chad Ochocinco.

    Antonio Bryant Released, But Still Makes $7 Million

  • If the subject complement is a personal pronoun, it must be in the nominative (subject) case.

    Grafik review

  • It may be asked why the action of the complement is so fleeting in the white corpuscles, when it lasts much longer in the humours taken from the organism, such as blood serum.

    Ilya Mechnikov - Nobel Lecture

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