Definition of compliment in US English:



Pronunciation /ˈkɑmpləmənt//ˈkämpləmənt/
  • 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.’
    • ‘John had displayed their work well and received many compliments for his dedication and initiative.’
    • ‘I received a look of awkward horror followed by some hasty compliments, an expression of surprise and the insistence that it was ‘very competitive’.’
    • ‘On the one hand, I got a nice compliment from a reader.’
    • ‘Ever the party leader, he even offered a backhanded compliment to the protesters.’
    • ‘Being maid of honour is a pretty cool job really, and my taffeta monstrosity got lots of polite compliments.’
    • ‘The best compliment I can give any restaurant is the one I give the Rosewater.’
    • ‘These compliments and encouraging expressions keep students positive and help them get through the class without dragging.’
    • ‘I was paid a very sincere compliment this weekend.’
    • ‘Joe has extended his organic meals menu in recent months and has received many compliments.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's an enormous compliment to be told your work is something that's enjoyed and recommended to other folks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Something about Gran's tone suggested that this was only a backhanded compliment.’
    • ‘He answers questions thoughtfully and politely, always thanking the questioner first when a compliment is offered.’
    • ‘His compliments were so polite and guarded but if you thought about them, they meant much.’
    • ‘The ultimate compliment has come from the enemy camp.’
    • ‘The couples walked around the room receiving many compliments for their costumes.’
    • ‘Chambers likely is to receive the ultimate compliment this postseason - double coverage.’
    • ‘I guess it's polite to start off a criticism with a compliment.’
    flattering remark, tribute, accolade, commendation, bouquet, pat on the back, encomium
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An act or circumstance that implies praise or respect.
      ‘it's a compliment to the bride to dress up on her special day’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was also a compliment to the artists themselves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And he will regard both appellations as a compliment to his deed and a testimony to his power.’
      • ‘It was actually a compliment to her as a hostess, that she had made her guest so comfortable and welcome.’
      • ‘‘I always thought it was a compliment to your host that you had made an effort and dressed up,’ said Joyce.’
      • ‘But it was a compliment to them to be asked to show their finance techniques to senior staff from nine countries.’
      • ‘I was pleasantly surprised at the generally well kept and clean appearance of the town, a compliment to all residents and your public facilities.’
      • ‘The timeless nature of these films is a compliment to the film-makers' art, as well as a comment on the failings of society.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, it's still a mystery if the favorable comparison was meant as a compliment to Smith.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2compliments Congratulations or praise expressed to someone.
      ‘my compliments on your cooking’
      • ‘Please give the cook my compliments on the wonderful food.’
      • ‘My compliments on finally tackling this oily business.’
      • ‘I wanted to send my compliments for a well-balanced piece.’
      • ‘My compliments on their effort in this tournament.’
      • ‘All concerned in the projects deserved congratulations and compliments.’
      • ‘Please give my sincere compliments and a well deserved Bravo!’
      congratulations, praise, commendations
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3compliments Greetings or regards, 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
      View synonyms


[with object]
Pronunciation /ˈkɑmpləˌmɛnt//ˈkämpləˌment/
  • 1Politely congratulate or praise (someone) for something.

    ‘he complimented Erica on her appearance’
    • ‘Nearly every time we stepped on the elevator, a Southern belle would graciously compliment a lady on her outfit.’
    • ‘The teachers and pupils are also thanked and complimented for their efforts.’
    • ‘He also complimented all who took part and took the time to decorate the floats and make them presentable.’
    • ‘Are you a shameless attention-seeker who can only get ego-gratification by having many people compliment you?’
    • ‘Ask yourself what people tend to compliment you on the most.’
    • ‘He also complimented the men on playing such an active part in branch activities.’
    • ‘Suggest to others that they praise or compliment someone who could use it.’
    • ‘They immediately broke out into smiles, shook my hands and graciously complimented me on my command of the language!’
    • ‘But when people complimented him on his voice, Martin started to dream of going on stage.’
    • ‘‘People are complimenting us a lot on our beer at the moment,’ he states.’
    • ‘And I don't think a little thing like it being my native language should stop people from complimenting me on it.’
    • ‘Most people will be highly complimented if you don't interrupt them until they're through.’
    • ‘She complimented the local organisers in achieving something that the national organisation was unable to do.’
    • ‘He complimented all the voluntary organisers and representatives for all they are doing to promote this very necessary task.’
    • ‘Surround yourself with people that can compliment you so you can work together and then everybody can be successful.’
    • ‘You can also compliment your loved one on how smart he or she is.’
    • ‘The pupils sang appropriate motets and were highly complimented for their performance.’
    • ‘People have been complimenting her on her new toned look and Fiona is already feeling the many physical benefits of being in better shape.’
    • ‘Many local people have complimented us on our efforts, as has the national park.’
    • ‘Incidentally, at least three people complimented me on the make-up and said I looked great and should do it more often.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Praise (something) politely.
      ‘complimenting 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.’
      • ‘A mere two saves for the game shows the already awesome defence that the team has to compliment the established offence.’
      • ‘She explained that each table had different options, and again complimented my sweater.’
      • ‘I have heard tourists compliment it and couldn't help but feel proud.’
      • ‘As this is her first exhibition, her eyes naturally light up when someone compliments an exhibit.’
      • ‘I want to start off by complimenting this website.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He then went on to flatter them further by complimenting their car parks.’
      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
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2compliment someone witharchaic 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.’
      • ‘Compliments of the season to all our readers.’
      • ‘She thanked everyone for providing such lovely entertainment and wished everyone the compliments of the season.’
      • ‘Compliments of the season to anyone who helped with these notes during the year and to all regular readers.’
      • ‘I stood in the queue, paid this so-called tax and received a small envelope containing compliments of the season from friends in Johannesburg.’
  • pay one's compliments

    • Send or express formal greetings.

      • ‘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.
        • ‘There's no chance of them doing me any favours, so I have every intention of returning the compliment if I get the chance.’
        • ‘This was our chance to return the compliment and show colleagues from New Zealand how we teach children in Wiltshire.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘I had educated them a little on Irish history so they returned the compliment and educated me.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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 always take elections seriously, though I know they never return the compliment.’
        • ‘I was invited to their school and I returned the compliment by inviting them to the Commons.’
        • ‘And the students returned the compliment at Her Excellency's request.’
        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
        View synonyms
  • with someone's compliments (or the compliments of)

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

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


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