complementary (to something) two people or things that are complementary are different but together form a useful or attractive combination of skills, qualities or physical features The school's approach must be complementary to that of the parents. We provide a service that is essentially complementary to that of the banks. Which Word?compliment / complement These words have similar spellings but completely different meanings. If you compliment someone, you say something very nice to them:She complimented me on my English. If one thing complements another, the two things work or look better because they are together:The different flavours complement each other perfectly. The adjectives are also often confused. Complimentary:She made some very complimentary remarks about my English. It can also mean ‘free’:There was a complimentary basket of fruit in our room. Complementary:The team members have different but complementary skills.