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.

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Does your dad work long hours and complain about never having time to exercise? Dave Johnson, Forbes, 10 June 2021 The new policy was quickly met an outpouring of mockery and discontent from Chinese internet users, who came up with memes and poems to complain about the government’s lack of support for women and the absence of an inclusive childcare system. Jane Li, Quartz, 7 June 2021 Samsung leaker Ice Universe picked up the report to complain about the current Snapdragon 888, which Samsung manufactures for Qualcomm. Chris Smith, BGR, 4 June 2021 Amy Nofziger, director of victim support for the AARP Fraud Watch Network, said the consumer originally called the AARP Helpline to complain that the car rental company lost her reservation. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 28 May 2021 To complain about a contractor, go to the same website, and click on File a Complaint bar on the left side of the website., 26 May 2021 Stewart’s shooting and the traffic stop arrest prompted other people to step forward to complain about police abuse, provoking racial tensions in the city, which is about 46% white and 54% Black, according to 2010 census figures., 24 May 2021 Last month, commissioner Quanice Floyd emailed several commissioners to complain about their behavior during the March meeting. Washington Post, 20 May 2021 The texture is light and not too cloying, and the oil absorbs quickly with no greasy sensation to complain about. Flora Tsapovsky, Southern Living, 19 May 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About complain

Time Traveler for complain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for complain

Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Complain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


Legal Definition of complain

: to make a complaint


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!