Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Exhibiting a desire or willingness to please; cheerfully obliging.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. compliant
  • adj. Willing to do what pleases others.
  • adj. polite, showing respect

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Desirous to please; courteous; obliging; compliant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Disposed to please; pleasing in manners; compliantly disposed; exhibiting complaisance; affable; gracious; obliging.
  • Synonyms Courteous, Urbane, etc. See polite.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. showing a cheerful willingness to do favors for others

Etymologies

French, from Old French, present participle of complaire, to please, from Latin complacēre; see complacent.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French complaire ("willing to please"), from Latin complacēre, present active infinitive of complaceō ("please well"), from com- ("with") + placeō ("please"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They cannot rightly be called complaisant, since they do not know, but they are good creatures who cannot see farther than their nose.

    Complete Original Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant

  • If "complaisant" was not the very last word that came to mind at the thought of Jamie Fraser, it was certainly well down toward the bottom of the list.

    Dragonfly in Amber

  • If he do this with the mere intention of pleasing he is said to be "complaisant," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 6): whereas if he do it with the intention of making some gain out of it, he is called a "flatterer" or "adulator."

    Summa Theologica, Part II-II (Secunda Secundae) Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province

  • There is no good thing which knowledge does not comprehend -- Mêden estin agathon ho ouk epistêmê periechei + -- a strenuously [84] ascertained knowledge however, painfully adjusted to other forms of knowledge which may seem inconsistent with it, and impenetrably distinct from any kind of complaisant or only half-attentive conjecture.

    Plato and Platonism

  • He is a sort of 'complaisant' of the President Montesquieu, to whom you have a letter.

    Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1750

  • From what you have just told me, your mother has got the idea, that your husband is what is called a complaisant husband.”

    Maigret and the Old Lady

  • He made his move when local government in England was at its most complaisant – led by Tories who put party loyalty first and preoccupied by cuts in spending.

    Abolishing the Audit Commission does not add up

  • Watch for his replacement by a complaisant government puppet, and a speedy and unsatisfactory end to the MPCC's foredoomed investigation.

    Archive 2009-10-01

  • Police, whether federal, provincial or municipal (and the RCMP actually plays all three roles in various jurisdictions), are generally unaccountable to the public whom they are supposed to serve and protect, watched over by toothless and/or complaisant oversight groups and literally able, as we have seen recently, to get away with homicide.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • If by “intelligent,” you mean “ambitious and complaisant,” then yes.

    Matthew Yglesias » Shocking True Tales of Media Bias

Comments

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  • The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic consequence. The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar"

    November 15, 2011