Definition of compliment in English:



  • 1A polite expression of praise or admiration.

    ‘she paid me an enormous compliment’
    • ‘Thanks for your extensive constructive criticism and your compliments on my writing.’
    • ‘I was paid a very sincere compliment this weekend.’
    • ‘The ultimate compliment has come from the enemy camp.’
    • ‘If you have decided to be a strand style setter, enjoy the challenges, the hard work and the ultimate compliments and admiration for a style well designed.’
    • ‘His compliments were so polite and guarded but if you thought about them, they meant much.’
    • ‘John had displayed their work well and received many compliments for his dedication and initiative.’
    • ‘On the one hand, I got a nice compliment from a reader.’
    • ‘He answers questions thoughtfully and politely, always thanking the questioner first when a compliment is offered.’
    • ‘I guess it's polite to start off a criticism with a compliment.’
    • ‘Being maid of honour is a pretty cool job really, and my taffeta monstrosity got lots of polite compliments.’
    • ‘Joe has extended his organic meals menu in recent months and has received many compliments.’
    • ‘I received a look of awkward horror followed by some hasty compliments, an expression of surprise and the insistence that it was ‘very competitive’.’
    • ‘Chambers likely is to receive the ultimate compliment this postseason - double coverage.’
    • ‘Ever the party leader, he even offered a backhanded compliment to the protesters.’
    • ‘It's an enormous compliment to be told your work is something that's enjoyed and recommended to other folks.’
    • ‘These compliments and encouraging expressions keep students positive and help them get through the class without dragging.’
    • ‘It was expected that a gentleman would pay a polite compliment to a lady of his acquaintance, but quite another matter to be seen to mean it.’
    • ‘The couples walked around the room receiving many compliments for their costumes.’
    • ‘Something about Gran's tone suggested that this was only a backhanded compliment.’
    • ‘The best compliment I can give any restaurant is the one I give the Rosewater.’
    flattering remark, tribute, accolade, commendation, bouquet, pat on the back, encomium
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    1. 1.1An act or circumstance that implies praise or respect.
      ‘it's a compliment to the bride to dress up on her special day’
      • ‘It's not only good karma and a nice thing to do - it's a compliment to the manager that you respect and appreciate his staff.’
      • ‘So please take this note as a compliment to the hundreds of excellent editions I have read, not as a stab at the one that was not.’
      • ‘It was actually a compliment to her as a hostess, that she had made her guest so comfortable and welcome.’
      • ‘Overall, the tone and use of language alone are reason enough to pick it up but it is also a compliment to the original story.’
      • ‘Now that's actually a compliment to Gehry, but it still implies that the bridge was on obstacle, rather than being something interesting to work with.’
      • ‘She's made great progress - I don't know if that's more of a compliment to her or self-congratulation on my part!’
      • ‘So I think it's a compliment to NASCAR and what they're doing with the sport.’
      • ‘I was pleasantly surprised at the generally well kept and clean appearance of the town, a compliment to all residents and your public facilities.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, it's still a mystery if the favorable comparison was meant as a compliment to Smith.’
      • ‘It was also a compliment to the artists themselves.’
      • ‘The timeless nature of these films is a compliment to the film-makers' art, as well as a comment on the failings of society.’
      • ‘Indeed, I interpret his obvious affection for her as a compliment to myself, because obviously he feels much more strongly for me than he ever did for her.’
      • ‘But it was a compliment to them to be asked to show their finance techniques to senior staff from nine countries.’
      • ‘And he will regard both appellations as a compliment to his deed and a testimony to his power.’
      • ‘The exhibition is a compliment to Leo and all involved and it is worthy to reflect on the fact that it's just a little slice of history.’
      • ‘‘I always thought it was a compliment to your host that you had made an effort and dressed up,’ said Joyce.’
      • ‘This was meant to be a compliment to him, and to wish him well in his retirement.’
      • ‘I take it as a compliment to be doing what I'm doing at my age.’
      • ‘This is a compliment to Westpoint Homes, which built the terrace in 2002 to reflect the style of the buildings that would originally have stood here.’
      • ‘I for one do not consider a continually deteriorating site as a compliment to the village and it is hardly a suitable entrance to an otherwise charming community.’
    2. 1.2Congratulations or praise expressed to someone.
      ‘my compliments on your cooking’
      • ‘My compliments on finally tackling this oily business.’
      • ‘Please give my sincere compliments and a well deserved Bravo!’
      • ‘All concerned in the projects deserved congratulations and compliments.’
      • ‘My compliments on their effort in this tournament.’
      • ‘Please give the cook my compliments on the wonderful food.’
      • ‘I wanted to send my compliments for a well-balanced piece.’
      congratulations, praise, commendations
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    3. 1.3Formal greetings, especially when sent as a message.
      ‘carry my compliments to your kinsmen’
      • ‘Your host sends his compliments and asks that we hurry.’
      greetings, good wishes, best wishes, regards, respects, salutations, felicitations
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  • 1 Politely congratulate or praise (someone) for something.

    ‘he complimented Erika on her appearance’
    • ‘He complimented all the voluntary organisers and representatives for all they are doing to promote this very necessary task.’
    • ‘Incidentally, at least three people complimented me on the make-up and said I looked great and should do it more often.’
    • ‘The pupils sang appropriate motets and were highly complimented for their performance.’
    • ‘Many local people have complimented us on our efforts, as has the national park.’
    • ‘Surround yourself with people that can compliment you so you can work together and then everybody can be successful.’
    • ‘They immediately broke out into smiles, shook my hands and graciously complimented me on my command of the language!’
    • ‘‘People are complimenting us a lot on our beer at the moment,’ he states.’
    • ‘Most people will be highly complimented if you don't interrupt them until they're through.’
    • ‘Nearly every time we stepped on the elevator, a Southern belle would graciously compliment a lady on her outfit.’
    • ‘You can also compliment your loved one on how smart he or she is.’
    • ‘And I don't think a little thing like it being my native language should stop people from complimenting me on it.’
    • ‘She complimented the local organisers in achieving something that the national organisation was unable to do.’
    • ‘He also complimented all who took part and took the time to decorate the floats and make them presentable.’
    • ‘Ask yourself what people tend to compliment you on the most.’
    • ‘But when people complimented him on his voice, Martin started to dream of going on stage.’
    • ‘Are you a shameless attention-seeker who can only get ego-gratification by having many people compliment you?’
    • ‘People have been complimenting her on her new toned look and Fiona is already feeling the many physical benefits of being in better shape.’
    • ‘Suggest to others that they praise or compliment someone who could use it.’
    • ‘He also complimented the men on playing such an active part in branch activities.’
    • ‘The teachers and pupils are also thanked and complimented for their efforts.’
    praise, commend, applaud, salute, honour, eulogize, extol, acclaim, sing the praises of, heap praise on, pay tribute to, speak highly of, speak well of, flatter, say nice things about, express admiration for, wax lyrical about, make much of, pat on the back, take one's hat off to, throw bouquets at
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    1. 1.1Praise (something) politely.
      ‘the manager was heard to compliment the other team's good play’
      • ‘It seriously means a lot to me to hear you compliment my writing so much.’
      • ‘So complimenting it is not an effective way to flatter me.’
      • ‘She explained that each table had different options, and again complimented my sweater.’
      • ‘As this is her first exhibition, her eyes naturally light up when someone compliments an exhibit.’
      • ‘A mere two saves for the game shows the already awesome defence that the team has to compliment the established offence.’
      • ‘While women are complimenting my courage for speaking from the heart, male fans are showering praises for the spunk I showed in taking on the high and mighty.’
      • ‘The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them.’
      • ‘They all would make comments to compliment my outfit of the day.’
      • ‘I have heard tourists compliment it and couldn't help but feel proud.’
      • ‘He then went on to flatter them further by complimenting their car parks.’
      • ‘I want to start off by complimenting this website.’
      praise, sing the praises of, heap praise on, pay tribute to, speak highly of, speak well of, flatter, say nice things about, express admiration for, wax lyrical about, make much of, congratulate, commend, acclaim, pat on the back, take one's hat off to, throw bouquets at, applaud, salute, honour, eulogize, extol
      big someone up, big something up
      cry someone up, cry something up, crack someone up, crack something up
      laud, panegyrize, felicitate
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    2. 1.2archaic Present someone with (something) as a mark of courtesy.
      ‘Prince George expected to be complimented with a seat in the royal coach’


Compliment (together with complimentary) is quite different in meaning from complement (and complementary). See complement


  • compliments of the season

    • Used as a seasonal greeting at Christmas or the New Year.

      • ‘Robyn and I wish you all in Richmond Valley the compliments of the season.’
      • ‘She thanked everyone for providing such lovely entertainment and wished everyone the compliments of the season.’
      • ‘I stood in the queue, paid this so-called tax and received a small envelope containing compliments of the season from friends in Johannesburg.’
      • ‘Compliments of the season to anyone who helped with these notes during the year and to all regular readers.’
      • ‘Compliments of the season to all our readers.’
  • pay one's compliments

    • Send or express formal greetings.

      ‘a gentleman stopped, eager to pay his compliments’
      • ‘When the gun carriage itself comes past we will present arms to pay our compliments to the Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family travelling behind the coffin.’
      • ‘A sizable crowd turned out in glorious weather conditions to pay their compliments to the small band of volunteers who had seen the six-year project bear fruit.’
  • return the compliment

    • 1Give a compliment in return for another.

      • ‘Paul compliments me on my dancing and I return the compliment: ‘well, that was a great groove.’’
      1. 1.1Retaliate or respond in kind.
        ‘she eyed me warily, and I returned the compliment’
        • ‘I was invited to their school and I returned the compliment by inviting them to the Commons.’
        • ‘I am pleased, as we all are, to get comments from our fellow writers and its time that I returned the compliment in some small way until I can sort my page out.’
        • ‘How right and proper then that we should return the compliment by meeting their request for another game between the counties - this time on Waterford soil.’
        • ‘At the welcome party local schoolchildren performed a concert much to the appreciation of the Bolivians, who in turn returned the compliment by performing a number of musical pieces.’
        • ‘I had educated them a little on Irish history so they returned the compliment and educated me.’
        • ‘I always take elections seriously, though I know they never return the compliment.’
        • ‘There's no chance of them doing me any favours, so I have every intention of returning the compliment if I get the chance.’
        • ‘And the students returned the compliment at Her Excellency's request.’
        • ‘This was our chance to return the compliment and show colleagues from New Zealand how we teach children in Wiltshire.’
        • ‘But she's so busy working this week - and will be over the holiday weekend - that I doubt I'll see her at all for a while, and won't be able to return the compliment.’
        fight back, strike back, hit back, respond, react, reply, reciprocate, counterattack, return fire, return the compliment, put up a fight, take the bait, rise to the bait, return like for like, get back at someone, get, give tit for tat, give as good as one gets, let someone see how it feels, give someone a dose of their own medicine, give someone a taste of their own medicine
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  • with one's compliments

    • Used to express the fact that what one is giving is free.

      ‘all drinks will be supplied with our compliments’
      • ‘Please accept this free copy of The Word Among Us magazine with my compliments.’
      • ‘To those two groups, I say enjoy it with my compliments.’
      • ‘A Mexican businessman sent over a bottle of three-year-old rum, with his compliments, and then came to join the party.’
      • ‘The winner will receive, with our compliments, an incredible week-long holiday in a luxury villa in sunkissed Marbella.’
      • ‘Also we have returned your cheque as the photograph is sent with our compliments.’
      • ‘I have passed your comments onto our buying team and I'm enclosing £1.00 with my compliments and best wishes.’
      • ‘We were very sorry to hear about the theft and we were happy to give them a replacement with our compliments and hope that they have a very merry Christmas.’


Mid 17th century: from French compliment (noun), complimenter (verb), from Italian complimento fulfilment of the requirements of courtesy, from Latin complementum completion, fulfilment (reflected in the earlier English spelling complement, gradually replaced by the French form between 1655 and 1715).