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

Paolino has long complained that too many people loiter in Kennedy Plaza and on the surrounding sidewalks, driving away businesses that might be interested in opening downtown. Dan Mcgowan,, "Underground bus tunnel pitched for Kennedy Plaza redesign in downtown Providence," 5 Sep. 2019 Cornell does not exactly complain about playing defensive end. Nathan Baird,, "Ohio State football needs Jashon Cornell’s versatility, but most of all it needs him at tackle," 5 Sep. 2019 The baggage of hearing locals complain about the Wine Train over the years. Esther Mobley,, "Review: The Napa Valley Wine Train is tacky. It’s also a lot of fun.," 5 Sep. 2019 Parents also complained about a lack of communication about students being moved to different buses when their usual bus was full, which led to some students being dropped off later than expected. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Pewaukee School District added a new bus route after parents raised concerns about overcrowding on social media," 4 Sep. 2019 The union also has complained to the National Labor Relations Board. Anne Saker,, "Nurses at University of Cincinnati Medical Center to set up picket to protest job actions," 2 Sep. 2019 For years, the Chicago Police Department has complained that people arrested on gun charges are treated too leniently by prosecutors and judges, further fueling the city's violence. Jeremy Gorner,, "Chicago police launch GunStat to fight gun violence by ‘identifying gaps and closing loopholes’ in justice system," 29 Aug. 2019 The Bolivian Friends of Nature Foundation has complained that the government ignored fire precautions needed at a time when the area — unlike the Amazon further north — is suffering drought conditions. Washington Post, "Vast fires sweep across Bolivia as well as Brazil," 27 Aug. 2019 The competitive Fortnite community has complained almost nonstop about the B.R.U.T.E., and #removethemech has become a top Twitter trending topic in response to Epic’s lax response to feedback. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Fortnite’s next tournament will also be its most controversial, thanks to mech suits," 16 Aug. 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

9 Sep 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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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