I could only find this blog that suggests that complacence is "is a calm satisfaction with oneself" whereas "complacency means a self-satisfaction but coupled with a lack of awareness of what is happening around it."

Is there a difference between the two and if not, is one more proper than the other? What would be the grammatical term for such a difference in the ending of a word?

I just remembered that stagnation is probably the preferred word, so perhaps ignore the stagnancy vs stagnance part (stagnancy seems to be entirely incorrect anyway).

  • Complacence and Complacency are actually the same word, just different spellings. I'll check on Stagnancy and Stagnance now. EDIT: Stagnance is not a word anywhere, although according to one website, it is an alternate noun form of Stagnant. The noun that people use for Stagnant is "Stagnation". Jul 20, 2014 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Complacence refers total self-satisfaction, while complacency referring to a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger or trouble, has a wider use and be expressed also with the following expressions:

resting on one’s laurels:

  • To be content with one’s present or past honors, accomplishments, or prestige. The laurels in this expression have long been a symbol of excellence or success in one’s field of endeavor. Resting indicates self-satisfaction and complacency with the implication that no further efforts will be expended to acquire additional figurative laurels. It is interesting to note that ancient philosophers and poets sometimes kept laurel leaves under their pillows for inspiration, a concept almost totally opposite to the phrase’s contemporary meaning.

snug as a bug in a rug:

  • Extremely comfortable and content. This common expression of obvious derivation was purportedly used by Benjamin Franklin in 1772. The phrase enjoys frequent use in the United States.

Ngram, shows a wider usage of complacency.


Complacence  and complacency have the same etymological root. The suffix cy was added later around  1640s when complacency come into existence.  complacence (n.)

  • mid-15c., "pleasure," from Medieval Latin complacentia "satisfaction, pleasure," from Latin complacentem (nominative complacens), present participle of complacere "to be very pleasing," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + placere "to please" (see please). Sense of "pleased with oneself" is 18c.

complacency (n.)

  • 1640s, from same source as complacence but with the later form of the suffix (see -cy).


abstract noun suffix of quality or rank, from Latin -cia, -tia, from Greek -kia, -tia, from abstract ending -ia + stem ending -c- or -t-. The native correspondents are -ship, -hood.

Sources: Etymonline.com/ www.thefreedictionary.com

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