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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Look, there’s never a good reason to complain about having more Ryan Gosling piped into one’s living room, but this is ridiculous. Wired, 31 July 2022 This past year, customers have frequently taken to the Internet to complain about the rising cost of their daily Dunks fix. Diti Kohli,, 28 July 2022 The couple has four children, who—with the names Pearl, Lucille, Ida, and Jack—sound less like a group of kids than a mishpocha of Jewish elders getting together in the sauna at the JCC to complain about the state of the world today. Emma Specter, Vogue, 27 July 2022 When the moment finally comes, the meeting starts off exactly how Kor expected, with Tricia relishing the opportunity to complain about her life, and Kor lending a sympathetic ear. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 18 July 2022 Yet, members of the public regularly call into meetings of the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission, which is made up of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointees, to complain about conditions at the shelters, including the dogs’ long confinement. Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2022 McMahon said the library had a policy to allow residents to complain about any books in an effort to have the library remove them. Andy Rose And Bill Kirkos, CNN, 15 July 2022 Her mother-in-law doted on her husband and was quick to criticize Ms. Xie if anything was out of order at home, sometimes even calling her at work to complain about dust in the corner or an unwashed plate in the sink. New York Times, 6 July 2022 Other than that, there was little to complain about. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 23 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Complain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for complain


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


intransitive verb
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


intransitive verb

Legal Definition of complain

: to make a complaint

More from Merriam-Webster on complain

Nglish: Translation of complain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of complain for Arabic Speakers


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