com·​plain | \ kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio) \
complained; complaining; complains

Definition of complain

intransitive verb

1 : to express grief, pain, or discontent complaining about the weather
2 : to make a formal accusation or charge He threatened to complain of him to the captain.

Other Words from complain

complainer noun
complainingly \ kəm-​ˈplā-​niŋ-​lē How to pronounce complain (audio) \ adverb

Examples of complain in a Sentence

He works hard but he never complains. If you're unhappy with the service, you should complain to the manager. The students complained that the test was too hard. “These shoes are too tight,” he complained.
Recent Examples on the Web My most recent addition to the list was the very common oyster toadfish that so many bottom fishermen curse and complain about. Jim Gronaw, Baltimore Sun, 18 Sep. 2022 Some virtual reality developers complain that Meta imposes overly strict requirements to get programs into its app store; others are worried that Meta’s acquisition spree in the market and poaching of top talent are throttling competition. Naomi Nix, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2022 Tired of hearing them complain about running through plastic bags so frequently? Ni'kesia Pannell, Woman's Day, 14 Sep. 2022 Michigan allows psychiatric hospitals to investigate themselves when patients complain their rights were violated. Jennifer Dixon,, 9 Sep. 2022 Paul Williams doesn’t come cheap -- but nobody could complain about a bad seat. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 Parents and environmental activists want the district to move more aggressively and complain this process places the burden on principals and families. Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2022 Note that some reviewers complain about the cap slipping, but there is an elastic and to help secure the cap in place. Jacorey Moon, Good Housekeeping, 29 Aug. 2022 The company’s founder, Darryl Marks, says fans often complain about how poorly a show or film is dubbed. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 26 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of complain

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complain

Middle English compleynen, from Anglo-French compleindre, from Vulgar Latin *complangere, from Latin com- + plangere to lament — more at plaint

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Time Traveler for complain

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The first known use of complain was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Complain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for complain


com·​plain | \ kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio) \
complained; complaining

Kids Definition of complain

: to express grief, pain, or discontent : find fault

Other Words from complain

complainer noun


intransitive verb
com·​plain | \ kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio) \

Medical Definition of complain

: to speak of one's illness or symptoms the patient visited the office complaining of weight loss


intransitive verb

Legal Definition of complain

: to make a complaint

More from Merriam-Webster on complain

Nglish: Translation of complain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complain for Arabic Speakers


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