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What is the difference between complacent and complaisant?

Complaisant means 'eager to please' and 'showing a cheerful willingness to fulfill others' wishes'. Complacent is quite the opposite, 'being pleased with oneself; contented to a fault'. However, they share one meaning, which may cause them to be confused - each also carries the sense of 'obliging, agreeable'. One could differentiate the two words by saying that complaisant is the active adverb and complacent denotes a more passive feeling. Complaisant was first recorded in 1647, deriving from Latin complacere. Complacent comes from the same Latin word, but is not found in writing until 1660.

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