Difference Between Compliment and Complement

Main Difference – Compliment vs Complement

A lot of people get confused about the usage of  two homophones Compliment and Complement. Though these two words sound the same, there is a difference in their meaning. The main difference between these two homophones is, compliment means to admire or praise something or someone while complement means something that enhances something. Let us look at this difference between compliment and complement in detail.

What Does Compliment Mean

“Compliment” can be used as a noun as well as a verb. As a noun, Compliment is a polite expression of praise or admiration. It is sometimes synonymous to congratulations.

Compliment as a noun – Examples:

Give my compliments to the chef for such a wonderful dessert.

Andrew’s behavior was a compliment to his mother.

He paid me a polite compliment, and I returned his compliment.

When he said that your hair is like fire, he meant it as a compliment.

Compliment as a verb – Examples:

Compliment as a verb refers to politely congratulating or praising someone. If a person says you are wearing a nice dress, then that person is complimenting you.

He complimented her on her appearance.

I must compliment all our students for their support and hard work this year.

Everyone complimented her on her performance.

Main Difference - compliment vs complement

Everybody complimented her on her new necklace.

What Does Complement Mean

Complement is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “A thing that contributes extra features to something else in such a way as to improve or emphasize its quality” In simple terms, when something enhances something or goes well with something, we say that it is complementary. So if we say “The wine complemented the food.” It means that wine went well with the food. We always use complement when we are talking about two things. Look at the examples below, to understand this meaning better. Note that complement too can be used both as a noun and a verb.

The soft music complemented their graceful dancing style.

The new dining table complements your kitchen so well.

Your new shoes complement your dress perfectly.

This sauce provides the perfect complement to the dish.

The piano complemented her voice.

Complement also refers to a number or quantity of something, that is  required to make a group complete. For example “the crew complement necessary to operate a ship”. However, this meaning is not commonly used.

The term, Complement is also used in various fields such as Geometry, Mathematics and Physiology. It gives different technical meanings in different fields. 

Difference between compliment and complement

Her shoes does not complement her dress.

Difference Between Compliment and Complement


Compliment: Compliment is a polite expression of admiration or praise.

Complement: Complement is to add extra features to something to improve or enhance its quality.


Compliment: The adjective of compliment is complimentary.

Complement: The adjective of complement is complementary.


Compliment: Compliment can be used in any situation.

Complement: Complement can be used with two or more things.

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