From Italian complire, Catalan complir (to complete, fulfil; to carry out), Spanish cumplir (to complete, fulfil),[1] (alternatively from Old French compli[2]), from Latin complēre, from compleō (to finish, complete; to fulfil), from com- (prefix indicating completeness of an act) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱóm (beside, near; by, with)) + pleō (to fill; to fulfil) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *pleh₁- (to fill)).

The word is very close to the French verb complaire which means to satisfy or to please. The word is also cognate with Old French complir (to accomplish, complete; to do) (modern French accomplir (to accomplish, achieve)). Compare complete, compliment.



comply (third-person singular simple present complies, present participle complying, simple past and past participle complied)

  1. To yield assent; to accord; to acquiesce, agree, consent; to adapt oneself, to conform.
    Synonyms: give way; see also Thesaurus:accede
    Antonym: violate
    • 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, []”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: [] J. M[acock] for John Starkey [], OCLC 228732398, lines 415–420, page 83:
      Maſters commands come with a power reſiſtleſs / To ſuch as owe them abſolute ſubjection; / And for a life who will not change his purpoſe? / (So mutable are all the ways of men) / Yet this be ſure, in nothing to comply / Scandalous or forbidden in our Law.
    • 1678, [Samuel Butler], “[The Third Part of Hudibras]”, in Hudibras. The Third and Last Part, London: [] Simon Miller, [], OCLC 123206337, canto III, page 226:
      He that complies againſt his Will / Is of his own opinion ſtill, / Which he may adhere to, yet diſown, / For Reaſons to himſelf beſt known, []
    • 1663, John Tillotson, The Wisdom of being Religious
      That the generality of the Philoſophers and wiſe men of all Nations and Ages, did diſſent from the multitude in theſe things. They believed but one Supreme Deity, which with reſpect to the various benefits men received from him, had ſeveral titles beſtowed upon him. And although they did ſervilely comply with the people in worſhipping God by ſenſible images and repreſentations, yet it appears by their writings that they deſpiſed this way of worſhip as ſuperſtitous and unſuitable to the nature of God.
    • 1719 April 25, [Daniel Defoe], The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, [], 3rd edition, London: [] W[illiam] Taylor [], published 1719, OCLC 838630407, page 303:
      He gave me all the Aſſurances that the Invention and Faith of Man could deviſe, that he would comply with theſe moſt reaſonable Demands, and beſides would owe his Life to me, and acknowledge it upon all Occaſions as long as he liv'd.
    • 1859 November 26 – 1860 August 25, [William] Wilkie Collins, “The Narrative of Eliza Michelson, Housekeeper at Blackwater Park”, in The Woman in White. [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, [], published 1860, OCLC 558180353, part I, page 157, column 2:
      On the day when the servants all left I was again sent for to see Sir Percival. The undeserved slur which he had cast on my management of the household did not, I am happy to say, prevent me from returning good for evil to the best of my ability, by complying with his request as readily and respectfully as ever.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 6, in A Cuckoo in the Nest, London: John Lane, OCLC 753022513, OL 1521052W:
      But Sophia's mother was not the woman to brook defiance. After a few moments' vain remonstrance her husband complied.
  2. (archaic) To accomplish, to fulfil. [from late 16th c.]
    Synonyms: carry out, consummate
    • 1654, attributed to George Chapman; now believed to be by Henry Glapthorne, Revenge for Honour. A Tragedie, London: Printed for Richard Marriot, [], OCLC 838634582; republished London: Printed for Humphrey Moseley, [], 1659, OCLC 838949769, Act II, scene i, page 22:
      Gentle Abrahen, I / am griev'd my power cannot comply my promiſe: / my Father's ſo averſe from granting my / requeſt concerning thee, that with angrie frowns / he did expreſs rather a paſſionate rage, / then a refuſall civil, or accuſtom'd / to his indulgent diſpoſition.
  3. (archaic) To be ceremoniously courteous; to make one's compliments.
  4. (archaic) To enfold; to embrace.
    • 1648, Robert Herrick, “Oberon’s Palace”, in Hesperides: Or, The Works both Humane & Divine of Robert Herrick Esq., London: Printed for John Williams, and Francis Eglesfield, and are to be sold by Tho[mas] Hunt, [], OCLC 270794850; republished in The Works of Robert Herrick, volume I, Edinburgh: Reprinted for W[illiam] and C[harles] Tait, 1823, OCLC 2946935, page 234:
      And then a rug of carded wooll, / Which, spunge-like, drinking in the dull / Light of the moon, seem'd to comply, / Cloud-like, the daintie deitie.

Usage notesEdit

The word is usually followed by with.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



  1. ^ comply”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “comply”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.