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

Anyone who knows me is sick of hearing me complain that New York cafes usually lack all of the above, especially on the baking front. Chris Morocco, Bon Appétit, "Rockaway Beach Bakery Is the Real Reason I Go to the Beach," 9 Aug. 2019 Local residents and gallery owners have also complained of an uptick in disruptive behavior and spray paint damage to private property. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Future Graffiti Additions to Prague’s John Lennon Wall Will Be Strictly Regulated," 5 Aug. 2019 After several years, a desk editor complained the smoke was bothering his cataracts. Greg Gilbert, The Seattle Times, "In 52 years at The Seattle Times, photographer Greg Gilbert has seen it all. But he wants to see more.," 31 July 2019 Hearing him complain reminded me of the adage that the most important factor in real estate is location. Ramona Sentinel, "Ask Mr. Marketing: In real estate they say ...," 31 July 2019 In 2015, O'so Brewery in Plover, owned by Marc Buttera, then president of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, complained that The Micro's fee to be included was too high and opted out. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Micro has 64 Wisconsin beers on tap at the State Fair," 24 July 2019 The licensing fees are also viewed by industry insiders as an example of the multiple levies that small and medium sized business owners often complain about in Lagos. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Bike-hailing startups in Lagos may soon have to pay thousands of dollars in state fees," 22 July 2019 Some people complained about the heavy police presence during events., "This top cop ripped apart a Michigan town," 17 July 2019 Adams has complained about a lack of interest from is promoter. Steven Marrocco, MMA Junkie, "Juan Adams' disdain for Greg Hardy stems from witnessing domestic abuse as child," 17 July 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

12 Aug 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

What made you want to look up complain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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