Difference Between Compliment and Complement

Compliment vs Complement

Is there a difference between compliment and complement? She paid me a compliment or should it be complement? This can be rather confusing. This is why people often tend to use the terms compliment and complement in the wrong places, presenting an entirely different meaning. After all, one might say when looking at the words the only difference is between the ‘i’ and ‘e’. However, these two are not synonymous. The meanings of these two words are quite different. Compliment is to praise or appreciate someone or something, whereas complement is to complete or supplement something. This highlights that the words cannot be used interchangeably as they carry two meanings. This article attempts to provide a better understanding of the terms through examples while emphasizing the difference in usage between the two terms.

What does Compliment mean?

According to the Oxford English dictionary, a compliment is an expression of praise and admiration. The adjective of this word is complimentary. In day to day life, we tend to appreciate and praise our friends and family, this is complimenting. For example, when we say ‘you look gorgeous today,’ this is paying a compliment. In other words, it is appreciating someone. Let us look at some more examples.

Assume you listen to one of your friends singing a song very well, once the performance is over you usually compliment the person by saying ‘It was a beautiful performance’, ‘your voice is amazing’. These are all compliments.

Let us take another example. Your neighbor buys a brand new car and the first time you see it you say ‘she is a beauty.’ Here , once again, we are complimenting the neighbor for his new car.

Difference Between Compliment and Complement

“She is a beauty”

What does Complement mean?

Once again, the Oxford English dictionary defines complement as a ‘thing that completes or improves something’. It brings out the meaning of enhancing or else supplementing something. The adjective of this word is complementary. Let us try to comprehend this through an example as well.

Your shoes complement your dress.

In this example, the speaker tries to say that the shoes give a sense of perfection or a sense of completion to the dress. Or else, it enhances the beauty of the dress. As you can see, it is not the same as complimenting someone or something. It also has an aura of praise, but in a different sense. Let us take another example.

The sauce really complements the dish.

In this case, it denotes that the sauce enhances the dish and also that it goes well with it. So unlike the word compliment, complement denotes enhancing or supplementing.

What is the difference between Compliment and Complement?

• Compliment is an expression of praise and admiration.

• The adjective is complimentary.

• Complement is a thing that completes or improves something.

• Complement can also mean to go with something.

• The adjective is complementary.

• The main difference between compliment and complement is that while compliment is related to praise, the word complement is related to enhancing something.