Meaning of “complex” in the English Dictionary

"complex" in British English

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uk /ˈkɒm.pleks/ /kəmˈpleks/ us /kɑːmˈpleks/ /ˈkɑːm.pleks/

B2 involving a lot of different but related parts:

a complex network of roads
a complex procedure
The company has a complex organizational structure.

B2 difficult to understand or find an answer to because of having many different parts:

It's a very complex issue to which there is no straightforward answer.
The film's plot was so complex that I couldn't follow it.

More examples

  • I find it hard to get my mind round such complex issues.
  • The structure of this protein is particularly complex.
  • It is a simple melody with complex harmonies.
  • The writer has used several complex grammatical constructions.
  • She always manages to cut through the complex theory and get at the facts.

complexnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈkɒm.pleks/ us /ˈkɑːm.pleks/

complex noun [ C ] (BUILDING)

C1 a large building with various connected rooms or a related group of buildings:

a shopping/sports and leisure complex
US They live in a large apartment complex.

More examples

  • They're planning to develop the whole site into a shopping complex.
  • The hotel complex was a honeycomb of rooms and courtyards .
  • The Council plans to knock the library down and replace it with a hotel complex.
  • The office complex has an on-site nursery.
  • They're building a new sports complex on the waterside.

(Definition of “complex” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"complex" in American English

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us /kəmˈpleks, ˈkɑm·pleks/

having many parts related to each other in ways that may be difficult to understand:

The question of who is legally responsible is a complex issue.
noun [ C/U ] us /kəmˈplek·sɪ·t̬i/

[ U ] You must understand the variety and complexity of tasks assigned to the police.

complexnoun [ C ]

us /ˈkɑm·pleks/

complex noun [ C ] (BUILDING)

a group of buildings that are related, or a large building having different parts:

an apartment complex for elderly people

complex noun [ C ] (ATTITUDES)

a group of attitudes and feelings that influence a person’s behavior, often in a negative way:

an inferiority complex

(Definition of “complex” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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