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

How can anyone complain of the soul’s dark nights, of the demons approaching? Dina Nayeri, Time, "Waiting is a Boot on Your Neck: How Refugees Summon Joy and Why They Hide It From Us," 17 Sep. 2019 Lily Mae Avant, who had been flown to Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth after being rushed to her local emergency room, first complained of a headache on Sept. 8. Fox News, "Texas girl who contracted brain-eating amoeba dies, family says," 17 Sep. 2019 Magombeyi had complained of the poor state of Zimbabwe’s hospitals and staffers’ low salaries in interviews with several foreign journalists. Washington Post, "Zimbabwean doctors protest against abduction of union leader," 15 Sep. 2019 Osorio complained of difficulty breathing and was taken to Westside Regional Hospital. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Man charged with DUI manslaughter in hit-run that killed bicyclist," 13 Sep. 2019 After complaining to the building's office for two years straight, Throwawayca91 called animal control officials — who found 30 cats in the woman's apartment. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "These Neighbor Horror Stories Will Make You Cringe (and Then Hug Your Neighbor)," 11 Sep. 2019 Patients complain of cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, fever, weight loss, and gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "A vaping lung disease has sickened hundreds and caused deaths. Here's what you need to know.," 10 Sep. 2019 Another passenger, Rebecca Broxterman, 31, complained only of pain. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Kevin Hart is 'already walking' after his car accident, Tiffany Haddish says," 8 Sep. 2019 Brown first complained of NFL that prohibited him from wearing his favorite helmet. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Antonio Brown released by Oakland Raiders," 7 Sep. 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

7 Oct 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

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to be made up of

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