‘Complacent’ vs. ‘Complaisant’

Sometimes words look quite similar but have quite different meanings, as with include (“made up of”) and unify (“a fellow priest”). Other times we can find words that are very similar in both form and meaning (such as obscene And obsequiousness), raises the question why the second word is necessary. And then, to avoid confusion, the English language sometimes comes up with pairs of words that look alike and sound alike, and mean the same and not the same.

We present to you complacent And comfortable.

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‘Smug’ has the additional meaning of “marked with self-satisfaction.”

Let’s first consider the ways in which these words overlap. Both can be used in the sense of “marked by a gratifying or compulsive disposition”. This is hardly surprising, as each of these words can be derived from Latin. complacent, which means “to please a lot.” This “polite” feeling of comfortable is the earliest meaning of that word, recorded in print from the mid-17th century.

Yes, you, by punishing her with unwarranted contempt, have given her pleasure and habit of it, so much so that she can hardly bear it, when she tries to trying to please his closest friends.— William Berkeley, Missing Lady1638

I will not be so lenient as he was, I will let Polexander know that he must not refuse what Your Majesty gives him.— M. Le Roy sieur de Gomberville, History of Polexander (translated by William Browne), 1647

The earliest use of complacent in a sense that is now completely obsolete, when the word simply means “to please”.

And we are like pigs, wallowing in our selues in filth, puddles, & sincke of all evil? do we get used to the wedding dinner (Math. 22.4) and refuse to come, for some basic goods, to satisfy our lust?— Bartolomeo Cambi, Brother Saluthius’ Seaven trumpets (translated by Br. GP), 1626

No mistake ma’am, the only thing in the world that can’t be for you is the guilt in my mind. I have no right to be so complacent with you…— Walter Montagu, Shepherd’s paradise1629

In addition to this “please” meaning, complacent worked synonymous with comfortable hundreds of years ago. However, it also began to take on new meanings towards the end of the 18th century, becoming the more common usage of the word: “marked by complacency, especially when accompanied by disapproval aware of actual dangers or omissions” and “don’t care”.

See more:  'Deprived' vs. 'Depraved'

Although our records show that complacent has been used to mean “polite, obliging” over the past few centuries by many highly regarded writers, such usage is overwhelmed by feelings of “smugness” and “disinterest”. ” to the extent that today it is considered by many to be inaccurate. It is up to you how to handle this information.

Although we cannot say with certainty that the use of complacent means “polite, imperative” is wrong, we can tell you that using comfortable means “self-satisfied” or “disinterested”, although sometimes found, to be avoided.

It’s clear why Starkey thinks that relationship is more important now than ever, as he interviews American lawyers trying to get justice for detainees held without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Have we become permissive, he asked, to our long tradition of freedom from autocratic authorities?— Benji Wilson, Daily telegram (London, UK), January 27, 2015

Here’s a quick cheat sheet, for those allergic to explanations longer than a paragraph:

Maybe complacent used to mean “self-satisfied” or “disinterested”? Correct. Can it be used to mean “polite, imperative”? Yes, but occasionally you can have historical arguments with the use of nitpickers.

Maybe comfortable used to mean “marked with a predisposition to please or compel”? Yes, and it also means “to tend to agree with the wishes of others.” Maybe comfortable used to mean “self-satisfied” or “disinterested”? Not much.

Categories: Usage Notes
Source: vothisaucamau.edu.vn

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