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What Does Complement Mean?

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The word complement implies something that completes or is perfect. The word signifies either one of the two parts that when added up to the other, completes the whole. The synonyms of the verb complement can be "to harmonize" or "to balance". In Geometry, a complementary is an angle adjacent to the other in such a way that the sum of the measure of both the angles equals to 90°.

In Grammar, complement refers to an indirect object of the verb. In the music parlance, a short break that completes an octave (8 tones) is called a complement. In mathematics, especially in the set theory, the complement implies objects in a set that are not present in the other set. In physiology, a group of at least 20 proteins found in the plasma of the blood to combat and kill pathogenic bacteria and foreign bodies is called as a complement.

The word complement should not be confused with the word "compliment" (with an "I" in the second syllable). Though the pronunciation is distinctly similar, the meaning is somewhat different. While complement means to bring to perfection or "make whole," the word "compliment' means "praise." For example, her beige colored skirt complemented her white top beautifully (complement in this sense refers "matching or perfecting"). Consider the second sentence: She received compliments for her beige dress ("compliment" refers to praise or flattery.)

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