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Late Middle English complacence, from Late Latin complacentia. Compare French complaisance.


  • IPA(key): /kəmˈpleɪsənˌsiː/
  • (file)


complacency (countable and uncountable, plural complacencies)

  1. A feeling of contented self-satisfaction, especially when unaware of upcoming trouble.
    • 1712 January 4 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison; Richard Steele, “MONDAY, December 24, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 256; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume III, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697:
      Others proclaim the infirmities of a great man with satisfaction and complacency, if they discover none of the like in themselves.
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 5, in Vanity Fair. A Novel without a Hero, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, OCLC 3174108:
      [] looking at Mr. George Osborne's pale interesting countenance, and those beautiful black, curling, shining whiskers, which the young gentleman himself regarded with no ordinary complacency, she thought in her little heart that in His Majesty's army, or in the wide world, there never was such a face or such a hero.
    • 1925, F[rancis] Scott Fitzgerald, chapter I, in The Great Gatsby, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 884653065; republished New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953, →ISBN:
      There was something pathetic in his concentration as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more. When, almost immediately, the telephone rang inside and the butler left the porch Daisy seized upon the momentary interruption and leaned toward me.
  2. An instance of self-satisfaction.


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