com·​plaint | \ kəm-ˈplānt How to pronounce complaint (audio) \

Definition of complaint

1 : expression of grief, pain, or dissatisfaction She did her chores without complaint.
2a : something that is the cause or subject of protest or outcry Inefficiency was the main complaint against the local government.
b : a bodily ailment or disease The patient's complaint was frequent headaches.
3 : a formal allegation against a party The complaint alleges sexual harassment.

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Examples of complaint in a Sentence

The board has received a number of complaints about the new policy. The company has a system to handle customer complaints. The lack of parking spaces is a common complaint among the city's residents. The lack of financial support is our biggest complaint. He is being treated for a stomach complaint. Shortness of breath was a common complaint among the patients.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The complaint says that few of the 65 million Americans on Medicaid pay more than an $8 copay for prescription drugs. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, "Drugmakers Sue to Block Federal Rule Requiring Drug Prices in TV Ads," 14 June 2019 The restroom also served as the female employees’ locker room, the complaint said. Julia Sclafani,, "H.B. vegan restaurant managers harassed female workers and spied on women’s restroom, according to lawsuit by former employees," 14 June 2019 According to a legal complaint, a former HealthNet administrator allowed the center's midwives to oversee the care of high-risk pregnant women without physician supervision. CBS News, "Doctors vs. midwives: OB-GYN blew the whistle, risked career, to protect moms and babies," 14 June 2019 The Texans said Gaine's dismissal was not related to the complaint. Charlotte Carroll,, "Patriots Tipped Off About Potential Tampering by Timing of Texans’ GM Firing," 13 June 2019 Margaret Brown faced eviction from her Apache Junction house after her husband, Gordon Brown, died, according to a complaint filed by her Scottsdale attorney, Mary Hone. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Reverse mortgages can cause problems when spouses, heirs aren't on board," 12 June 2019 The complaint said Nelson’s conduct established a pattern of violations of the U.S. Fair Housing Act, which is designed to protect tenants from landlord abuse. Jeff Mcdonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Federal prosecutors accuse Spring Valley landlord of sexually harassing female tenants," 11 June 2019 When Duncan reported the issue, his supervisor retaliated by assigning Duncan extra work, according to the complaint. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "African American maintenance workers in JCPS face discrimination, lawsuit says," 6 June 2019 One of his co-defendants also allegedly took nude photographs of the victims and sent the pictures to García, the criminal complaint said. Mark Stevenson And Stefanie Dazio, Houston Chronicle, "Mexican church leader still its 'apostle' after rape arrest," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complaint.' 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 complaint

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for complaint

Middle English compleynte, from Anglo-French compleint, from compleindre — see complain

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Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complaint

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

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More Definitions for complaint



English Language Learners Definition of complaint

: a statement that you are unhappy or not satisfied with something
: the act of saying or writing that you are unhappy or dissatisfied with something
: something to be unhappy about : something that people complain about


com·​plaint | \ kəm-ˈplānt How to pronounce complaint (audio) \

Kids Definition of complaint

1 : expression of grief, pain, or discontent He does his work without complaint.
2 : a cause or reason for expressing grief, pain, or discontent The noise is my biggest complaint.
3 : a sickness or disease of the body a stomach complaint
4 : a charge of wrongdoing against a person What's her complaint against me?


com·​plaint | \ kəm-ˈplānt How to pronounce complaint (audio) \

Medical Definition of complaint

: a bodily ailment or disease bloating and other digestive complaints— Christine Gorman

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Legal Definition of complaint

1 : the initial pleading that starts a lawsuit and that sets forth the allegations made by the plaintiff against the defendant and the plaintiff's demand for relief — see also prayer, process, well-pleaded complaint rule — compare answer
2 : a document sworn to by a victim or police officer that sets forth a criminal violation and that serves as the charging instrument by which charges are filed and judicial proceedings commenced against a defendant in a magistrate's court — compare declaration, indictment, information
3 : petition

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