complementary

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From complement +‎ -ary.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

complementary (comparative more complementary, superlative most complementary)

  1. Acting as a complement.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 140:
      Using the terminology we intro-
      duced earlier, we might then say that black and white squares are in comple-
      mentary
      distribution on a chess-board. By this we mean two things: firstly,
      black squares and white squares occupy different positions on the board: and
      secondly, the black and white squares complement each other in the sense that
      the black squares together with the white squares comprise the total set of 64
      squares found on the board (i.e. there is no square on the board which is not
      either black or white).
  2. (genetics) Of the specific pairings of the bases in DNA and RNA.
  3. (physics) Pertaining to pairs of properties in quantum mechanics that are inversely related to each other, such as speed and position, or energy and time. (See also Heisenberg uncertainty principle.)

Usage notes[edit]

  • Complementary and complimentary are frequently confused and misused in place of one another.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

complementary (plural complementaries)

  1. A complementary colour.
  2. (obsolete) One skilled in compliments.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)

External links[edit]