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.

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Other Words from complain

complainer noun
complainingly \ kəm-​ˈplā-​niŋ-​lē How to pronounce complainingly (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Still, when targets of suspensions complain, they are usually met by a boilerplate statement that their content violated company policies, with no explanation of what those policies are or exactly what the violation was. The Economist, "The unacknowledged legislators of the online world," 14 June 2019 Athletes almost never complain when they're routed. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: The USWNT did nothing wrong in Women's World Cup blowout of Thailand," 13 June 2019 After the boy’s parents complained, Williams denied choking the boy. Scott Travis,, "School district fires two teachers for alleged choking, racial comments," 12 June 2019 But now progressives are complaining that biofuel producers are milking government subsidies intended to help dairy farmers cut emissions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "California Greens Have a Cow," 9 June 2019 No one complains and no one is trying to take advantage. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ said I was too hard on waitress. Was I?," 7 June 2019 According to the affidavit, Roque had previously seen Flores dancing with the woman, and Flores later complained that someone slashed his tires. Sarah Sarder, Dallas News, "Man arrested on murder charge in April shooting outside Arlington sports bar," 5 June 2019 Gonzales, who does most of the talking during the 23-minute video, complains in the footage about Sharia law and said Muslims engage in bestiality and are destroying America. Fox News, "Woman who lifted Arizona mosque items gets probation," 5 June 2019 Small businesses in Connecticut are complaining after lawmakers, in search of more revenue, reduced a year-old tax credit intended to save owners money. Stephen Singer,, "Small businesses cry foul over newest tax law change," 4 June 2019

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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Statistics for complain

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

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 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
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

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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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showing courage and determination

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