Definition of complacent in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəmˈplās(ə)nt/


Showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements: you can’t afford to be complacent about security
More example sentences
  • It is always wise to guard against adopting a complacent or smug attitude in life as one ages.
  • The novelty of them has worn off and no team will again head north with the complacent attitude of an easy win and a night in Edinburgh.
  • You only get one life, and if all you ever do with it is grow rich or complacent or comfortable or proud then you might as well not have lived at all.
smug, self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, self-regarding, conceited;
gloating, triumphant, proud;
pleased, satisfied, content, contented


Complacent and complaisant are two words that are similar in pronunciation and that both come from the Latin verb complacere ‘to please,’ but in English do not mean the same thing. Complacent is the more common word and means ‘smug and self-satisfied’: after four consecutive championships, the team became complacent. Complaisant, on the other hand, means ‘willing to please’: the local people proved complaisant and cordial.



Pronunciation: /kəmˈplāsntlē/
Example sentences
  • Are my followers and I supposed to sit there tomorrow and eat our turkey complacently while this persecution is occurring?
  • Your editorial complacently endorsed the notion of matching the European Union average on health spending.
  • They have not done that by sitting back complacently.


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'pleasant'): from Latin complacent- 'pleasing', from the verb complacere.

  • please from Middle English:

    A word that comes via Old French plaisir ‘to please’ from Latin placere, found also in implacable (Late Middle English). Phrases like yes, please were originally short for ‘may it please you’ or ‘let it please you’. Please on its own, as used today, was not known to Shakespeare, who used please you: ‘Will you hear the letter?—So please you, for I never heard it yet’ (As You Like It). The proverbs you can't please everyone and little things please little minds are both old and can be traced back to the late 15th and late 16th centuries. Something pleasant (Middle English) was originally something ‘pleasing’, the meaning of the word in its French source. If you were complacent (mid 17th century) you were originally willing to go along with what pleases others.

Words that rhyme with complacent

adjacent, obeisant

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·pla·cent

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