Meaning of COMPLEX in English


I. ˈkäm-ˌpleks noun

Etymology: Late Latin complexus totality, from Latin, embrace, from complecti

Date: 1643

1. : a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts

a complex of welfare programs

the military-industrial complex


a. : a group of culture traits relating to a single activity (as hunting), process (as use of flint), or culture unit


(1) : a group of repressed desires and memories that exerts a dominating influence upon the personality

(2) : an exaggerated reaction to or preoccupation with a subject or situation

c. : a group of obviously related units of which the degree and nature of the relationship is imperfectly known

d. : the sum of factors (as symptoms) characterizing a disease or condition

3. : a chemical association of two or more species (as ions or molecules) joined usually by weak electrostatic bonds rather than covalent bonds

4. : a building or group of buildings housing related units

an apartment complex

a sports complex

II. käm-ˈpleks, kəm-ˈ, ˈkäm-ˌ adjective

Etymology: Latin complexus, past participle of complecti to embrace, comprise (a multitude of objects), from com- + plectere to braid — more at ply

Date: 1645


a. : composed of two or more parts : composite


(1) of a word : having a bound form as one or more of its immediate constituents

unmanly is a complex word

(2) of a sentence : consisting of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses

2. : hard to separate, analyze, or solve

3. : of, concerned with, being, or containing complex numbers

a complex root

complex analysis

• com·plex·ly adverb

• com·plex·ness noun


complex , complicated , intricate , involved , knotty mean having confusingly interrelated parts. complex suggests the unavoidable result of a necessary combining and does not imply a fault or failure

a complex recipe

complicated applies to what offers great difficulty in understanding, solving, or explaining

complicated legal procedures

intricate suggests such interlacing of parts as to make it nearly impossible to follow or grasp them separately

an intricate web of deceit

involved implies extreme complication and often disorder

a rambling, involved explanation

knotty suggests complication and entanglement that make solution or understanding improbable

knotty ethical questions

III. same as 2 transitive verb

Date: 1658

1. : to make complex or into a complex

2. : chelate

• com·plex·a·tion ˌkäm-ˌplek-ˈsā-shən, kəm- noun

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate English vocabulary.      Энциклопедический словарь английского языка Merriam Webster.