It seems to me that something cannot be both complicated and detailed.

In general usage, complicated seems to be applied to things which are very difficult to understand. For example:

The project's architecture is very complicated and hence it takes more time to understand.

This design is very complicated. I will need more time to comprehend it.

Detailed seems to mean the opposite of complicated:

The documentation for the architecture is very detailed. It will be easy to understand.

Ram explained the design to me in detail, so I understood it very quickly.

It is my understanding that an object cannot be both complicated and detailed at the same time. If the architecture is complicated it is difficult to understand. If it is detailed it is easy to understand. The two terms seem mutually exclusive, and I am unable to see how both qualifiers can be applicable to single object. Can anyone explain to me if this is correct or not, and why?

  • 1
    There are many many millions of things which are both complicated and detailed: all living organisms, to begin with, all social institutions, most works of art, and many machines. I'm afraid that as it stands this question is impossibly broad, and hence Not A Real Question. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 29 '13 at 19:53
  • I'm voting to close this as not a real question because it is badly phrased and difficult to see what is being asked. In future, a better question might be "Is it possible for something to be complicated and detailed?". As it stands "Please list things that are complicated and detailed" is a bad fit for stack-exchange, since it doesn't have a single, good answer. – Matt Mar 30 '13 at 14:44
  • BVR, I think I understand what you're trying to ask, and I completely understand why you could be confused about this. However as it currently stands I don't think the question is properly expressing what you want to know, hence being closed. If you'd like, I'd be willing to edit the question into a form that would be more acceptable for the site and hopefully get you the answers you're looking for. It would be a substantial edit, so I'd like your permission first; but I'd also reopen the question when finished, so you could get an answer. Just let me know if you'd like me to do that! – WendiKidd Mar 30 '13 at 22:35
  • @WendiKidd: Thanks for your willingness to help me. Really nice of you. Please go ahead and edit the question. – Babu Mar 31 '13 at 2:22

The source of your confusion seems to be an overgeneralization of the word 'detailed'.

You are correct that if something is complicated, it is most likely going to be difficult to understand. From The Free Dictionary:

complicated, adj.

  1. Containing intricately combined or involved parts.

  2. Not easy to understand or analyze. See Synonyms at complex, elaborate.

However, the fact that something is detailed does not mean that it is easy to understand. If, as in your example, I explain a concept to you in detail, that means I go over every small portion of the concept and give you an explanation. That does not mean that you understand the explanation, just that I gave it to you in detail. If I were to give you a detailed explanation of a complex science experiment in a field you had no experience in, most likely the jargon and specifics of that explanation wouldn't tell you much of anything. You'd still be confused, no matter how thorough an explanation I gave you.

Regarding the specific example of detailed documentation, there's a whole lot of extensively detailed software documentation out there that still doesn't make a bit of sense. I can explain every single detail but if I explain it badly, or if my audience is unfamiliar with the subject, they're still not going to understand. So something being detailed does not mean it is easy to understand.

For that matter, something being complicated doesn't necessarily mean it's hard to understand, either. It's all about the audience. A complicated subject might be hard to understand for you or me, but Albert Eistein might have understood it very easily. Really it's all about your audience. So you have to look at both definitions 1 and 2 of the word; if something has many intricately involved parts it is complicated in the sense of the first definition, but the second definition is subjective and dependent upon who is characterizing the object as complicated or not.

In short, yes! Something can be both detailed and complicated. In fact some things are designed to be just that way. Think about art (an ancient frieze or something) and consider that much of it can both have very minuscule details and also be very complicated in design (by having many intricately combined parts, which are also detailed).


As already mentioned, there are too many things that can be both complicated and detailed. Its kind of like asking what things are both soft and smooth. In either case, for certain things its possible both apply, and in other cases not. But that requires more context to decide. Having said that...

You asked,

For example, Practically is there any architecture exists which is complicated as well detailed or is there any documentation exists which is complicated and detailed?

so I wonder if you are looking for a way to describe both qualities at the same time. If that is the case, you can use intricate.

You could say

The project architecture is very intricate and hence it takes more time to understand. This design is very intricate. I need sufficient time to understand it.


The documentation for the architecture is very intricate. It is not so hard to understand. Ram explains about the intricate design. So it reduces my time to understand the design.

Some examples sentences: http://sentence.yourdictionary.com/intricate which might give a better idea of the common usage.


You could look at the US Tax system for an example of something that is quite detailed as there are many pages written about what are the rates for people or corporations to pay in the form of taxes. At the same time, the existence of accountants that study the laws would suggest that this is at least somewhat complicated. If someone wanted quotes for each, here is one for each part:

Why are taxes so complicated? notes:

Almost everyone agrees that the current tax system is too complicated, yet almost every year the system gets more complex, not less.

International taxation - Wikipedia notes the following:

The United States taxes its citizens as residents, and provides lengthy, detailed rules for individual residency of foreigners

Another idea to ponder here is to consider the concept of the universe. The universe is rather detailed in the sense that one could try to enumerate all the elements within it and at the same time, it is quite complicated for all the things that are in it that are being studied so that we can understand the nature of existence. While one can simply state that the universe is everything, there is quite a bit of depth to that remark.


A business process can be both complicated and detailed at the same time. It can be complicated because there are many steps difficult steps involved. It can be detailed because business processes can proscribe actions at a very granular level.

Chemical reaction can have the same set of modifiers applied to it.

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