Meaning of COMPLEX in English

I. com ‧ plex 1 S3 W2 AC /ˈkɒmpleks $ ˌkɑːmˈpleks◂/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ complexity ; adjective : ↑ complex ]

[ Date: 1600-1700 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: complexus , past participle of complecti 'to include (many different things)' , from com- ( ⇨ COM- ) + plectere ( , ↑ plexus ) ]

1 . consisting of many different parts and often difficult to understand SYN complicated OPP simple :

a complex system of highways

Photosynthesis is a highly complex process.

Peter seemed to have an instant understanding of the most complex issues.

It was a very complex relationship between two complex people.

2 . technical a complex word or sentence contains a main part and one or more other parts ⇨ compound

• • •


▪ complicated consisting of a lot of different parts or details and therefore difficult to understand:

The rules of the game seemed very complicated.


I didn’t realize programming the VCR would be so complicated.


The brain is like a very powerful, very complicated computer.


a complicated issue

▪ complex a complex process, relationship etc is difficult to understand because it has a lot of parts that are all connected in different ways:

The chemical processes involved are extremely complex.


the complex relationship between government and the media

▪ elaborate having a lot of parts or details and very carefully planned, but often more complicated than is necessary:

Mike had worked out an elaborate system for categorizing his collection of DVDs.


The plan to kidnap her had become even more elaborate.


Sociologists have been coming up with increasingly elaborate theories to explain unsafe sexual practices.

▪ involved very long and complicated – use this especially about something that you think should be made simpler:

The system for choosing candidates is very involved, and I won’t go into it here.


Adopting a child can be a long involved process.

▪ convoluted too complicated and difficult to understand – used especially about someone’s language or arguments, or about a system:

convoluted sentences


Procedures for government funding have become more convoluted.


James’s books are full of long paragraphs and convoluted sentences, which many people do not find appealing.

▪ intricate having a lot of small parts or details – used especially about something that is cleverly designed or made:

Lasers are used to cut intricate designs in the metal.


The farmers use an intricate system of drainage canals.


the intricate workings of a watch


intricate patterns of coloured marble

II. com ‧ plex 2 AC /ˈkɒmpleks $ ˈkɑːm-/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

1 . a group of buildings, or a large building with many parts, used for a particular purpose:

The town has one of the best leisure complexes in the country.

a three-story apartment complex

2 . a complex of something formal a large number of things which are closely related:

China was a complex of different societies.

3 . an emotional problem in which someone is unnecessarily anxious about something or thinks too much about something:

I used to have a complex about my looks.

⇨ ↑ inferiority complex , ↑ Oedipus complex , ↑ persecution complex

• • •


■ types of complex

▪ a leisure complex (=where you can play sports or relax)

The new leisure complex includes a swimming pool, a sauna and a gym.

▪ a shopping complex

Some old buildings were pulled down to make space for a new shopping complex.

▪ a sports complex

The sports complex also has six tennis courts.

▪ an entertainment complex (=with cinemas, restaurants and other places to go)

There are plans for an entertainment complex with cinemas and a bowling alley.

▪ a holiday complex (=one where people go for holidays)

The lively holiday complex has plenty of nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

▪ a housing/residential complex (=for people to live in)

Architects designed the residential complexes near the beach.

▪ a retail/commercial complex (=for shops, businesses, or industries)

a ten-screen movie theater and retail complex

▪ an office/museum/hospital etc complex

a 120-acre office complex near Las Vegas

▪ an apartment complex American English

a luxury apartment complex on Fulton Street

• • •


▪ building a structure such as a house, church, or factory, that has a roof and walls:

The college needs money to pay for new buildings.

▪ property formal a building or piece of land, or both together - used especially when talking about buying and selling buildings or land:

The next property they looked at was too small.


The company received permission to build six residential properties on the land.

▪ premises formal the buildings and land that a shop, restaurant, company etc uses:

You are not allowed to drink alcohol on the premises.


The bread is baked on the premises.

▪ complex a group of buildings, or a large building with many parts, used for a particular purpose:

The town has one of the best leisure complexes in the country.


a luxury apartment complex

▪ development a group of new buildings that have all been planned and built together on the same piece of land:

a new housing development


a huge industrial development

▪ block especially British English a large tall building that contains apartments or offices, or is part of a school, university, or hospital:

an office block


a block of flats


a tower block (=a very tall building - often used disapprovingly)


My next lecture is in the science block.

▪ facility especially American English a place or building used for a particular activity or industry:

a research facility on campus

▪ edifice formal a large building, especially one that is tall and impressive - a very formal use:

Their head office was an imposing edifice.

▪ structure formal something that has been made to stand upright - used especially when talking about buildings:

The stone arch is one of the town’s oldest existing structures.


an immense barn-like structure


Mogul calls this building, designed by Donald and John Parkinson in 1928, ‘the most important structure in Los Angeles of the 20th century.’

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.