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

Those at the bottom could then spend their time criticizing those at the top and complaining about how unfairly they’ve been treated. ... WSJ, "The Progressive Approach To the Democratic Debates," 29 Apr. 2019 Riders have been complaining this week about the bumpy nature of the Circuit of the Americas, which was built for Formula One cars and opened in 2012. Jim Vertuno, The Seattle Times, "Marquez again wins pole position at MotoGP in Austin," 13 Apr. 2019 One was between Kat and Jane about privilege, which was caused by Jane complaining about a company’s diversity push being the reason she didn’t get hired. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, ""The Bold Type" Stars Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, and Katie Stevens Talk What to Expect in Season 3," 11 Apr. 2019 Twenty-seven women being held as ICE detainees signed a letter complaining about conditions in September. Otis R. Taylor Jr.,, "Honduran woman deported from Contra Costa jail is glad to hear ICE is getting booted," 12 July 2018 Originally, Lantern was to pay $310 million, and there were plenty of objections from producers and A-list talent complaining about what they are owed. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Weinstein Co. Buyer Lantern Investigating David Glasser for Interfering in $289M Sale," 11 July 2018 Under fire for alleged collusion with the Russian government, Trump responds by complaining about others who have Russia ties. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump says “Germany is a captive to Russia.”," 11 July 2018 Just as Rak had privately reported the fraudulent routing announcements to Telia Company in November 2017 and April 2018, Guilmette explicitly complained to Telecom Italia, the transit provider that both Alpha and Bravo relied on in July. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "How 3ve’s BGP hijackers eluded the Internet—and made $29M," 21 Dec. 2018 The email complained about near misses that frequently weren’t investigated properly or even ignore, and about backup drivers who lacked proper training and vetting. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Uber manager raised concerns about self-driving program just days before fatal collision," 11 Dec. 2018

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

20 May 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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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