com·plain | \ kəm-ˈplān \
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.

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Other words from complain

complainer noun
complainingly \kəm-ˈplā-niŋ-lē \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Mason Allen, who complained to the city of Indian Rocks Beach, explained that allowing the practice to continue could encourage others to operate their own businesses on the beach. Tiffini Theisen,, "Florida man complains about beach yoga, tries to get class shut down," 13 July 2018 Our farmers complained in turn, and U.S. politicians slapped at 25 percent tariff on products including French brandy and German buses. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Trump's trade war could threaten US pickup production and jobs," 13 July 2018 In a conservative region of a conservative state, no public officials complained after the arrests. Nomaan Merchant,, "Hunger, fear, desperation: What came of an ordinary ICE raid in Covington," 9 July 2018 In response, some fans complained that since Lili doesn't have the same body type as Marilyn, her comparison was unfounded. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Lili Reinhart Made an Important Point About Body Dysmorphia," 4 July 2018 One was the woman who had complained 3 years before. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "Prominent geneticist out at UC Irvine after harassment finding," 29 June 2018 In 2014, England complained about the heat in Brazil -- particularly the humidity of the Amazonian jungle in the team's opening loss to Italy. CBS News, "England advances to World Cup knockout round with resounding 6-1 win over Panama," 24 June 2018 Last year, after a round of ESPN layoffs, the writer Jeff Pearlman, previously of Sports Illustrated, and the author of several books, complained, in a blog post, that the company had let go several respected reporters but held on to Smith. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Stephen A. Smith Won’t Stop Talking," 16 June 2018 The white people that José encounters, like the snooty white-collar worker who complains about his delivery order, are for the most part stereotypically rendered. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "While watching 'En el Séptimo Día,' viewers rejoice in the hopes of immigrants," 15 June 2018

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.

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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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Phrases Related to complain

can't complain

Statistics for complain

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complain

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

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More Definitions for complain



English Language Learners Definition of complain

: to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something

: to say (something that expresses annoyance or unhappiness)


com·plain | \ kəm-ˈplān \
complained; complaining

Kids Definition of complain

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

Other words from complain

complainer noun
com·plain | \ kəm-ˈplān \

Medical Definition of complain 

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

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Legal Definition of complain 

: to make a complaint

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More from Merriam-Webster on complain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for complain

Spanish Central: Translation of complain

Nglish: Translation of complain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on complain

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to make amends

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