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

Mayors of the cities where the raids are due to take place complain ICE has left them in the dark. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for July 12: Barry, politics, R. Kelly, immigrants, secondhand smoke," 12 July 2019 Customers were complaining that the drugs Poggie had packaged were coming in light, Dorsey said. Phil Davis,, "Retired 72-year-old Maryland aviation worker started second career: selling heroin for Black Guerilla Family," 9 July 2019 Following the 2017 World Series, pitchers and coaches complained the balls were slicker. Charlotte Carroll,, "Justin Verlander Calls MLB Balls 'A F---ing Joke'," 8 July 2019 Several positive reviews praise the dome structure, although one review complained that the igloo was wrinkled. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Amazon is selling a $1,200 geodesic dome kit for your backyard," 21 June 2019 Nairobi’s residents like to complain that driving from the airport to the city center—a distance of only 17km (10 miles)—can sometimes take longer than traveling to a foreign country. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Uber thinks its data can solve Nairobi’s epic traffic jams," 19 June 2019 Google quickly issued a statement denying the alleged misuse, which Genius complains is discouraging users from visiting its site. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Google Defends How It Sources Song Lyrics: 'We Do Not Crawl or Scrape Websites'," 18 June 2019 So why are San Francisco’s progressives complaining? James Sutton, National Review, "Don’t Blame Big Tech for San Francisco’s Homelessness Crisis," 13 June 2019 Across the country in Maracaibo, angry drivers lined up complaining that police were profiting off their frustrations. Sheyla Urdaneta, The Seattle Times, "Vast gasoline lines form in oil-rich Venezuela," 20 May 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

15 Jul 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).


characterized by aphorism

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