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 But the diplomatic families quickly grew bored—and some took special pleasure in complaining. Harvey Solomon, Smithsonian Magazine, "When the Greenbrier and Other Appalachian Resorts Became Prisons for Axis Diplomats," 21 Feb. 2020 While Democrats complained at Reagan’s appearance in Iowa, on the same day as the caucus, Republicans could only smile. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Trump 2020 off to a roaring start while Democrats growl at each other," 20 Feb. 2020 Drake could go on and on and no one would complain. cleveland, "25 best samples in Drake songs," 18 Feb. 2020 His presence also created huge lines at entrances, with many fans complaining while waiting hours to get through security. Jenna Fryer, Houston Chronicle, "Rains postpones Daytona 500 until Monday," 16 Feb. 2020 If not, in the interest of family harmony, stop complaining. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Husband wonders if couple’s sleeping arrangement is ‘normal’," 15 Feb. 2020 The University of Virginia said on Wednesday that its multicultural student center was open to everyone after a viral video showed a black woman complaining that too many white students were occupying the space. Fox News, "UVA says multicultural center open to everyone after black woman complains about 'too many white people'," 14 Feb. 2020 In October, security firm Symantec also reported that users were complaining that factory resets didn’t kill xHelper, but company researchers were also unable to explain why. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Nasty Android malware reinfects its targets, and no one knows how," 13 Feb. 2020 The logbook is filled with comments praising the Volvo's handsome styling, although a few staffers have complained that the interior's black-and-silver theme is a bit too dark and not up to the same standards as Volvo's grander 90-series models. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "Long-Term 2019 Volvo XC60: New Engine, New Platform, New Factory, No Surprises," 13 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for complain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for complain

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Complain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for complain


How to pronounce complain (audio)

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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