com·plaint | \kəm-ˈplānt \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Jordan allegedly acted on none of these complaints. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The defense of Jim Jordan and the defense of Trump are now intertwined.," 12 July 2018 An investigation of such complaints led to the enforcement action announced Monday, the department said. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "State hits CVS pharmacy benefit company with $1.5 million fine," 9 July 2018 The total number of complaints received last year was 12,500, an average of 34 a day. Dae Shik Kim Hawkins, The Atlantic, "An App for Ejecting the Homeless," 28 June 2018 Kimberly Burrus wrote in a criminal complaint filed Friday that her ex-husband, fellow police commander Capt. Kevin Rector,, "Baltimore police commander under theft investigation claims ex-husband burglarized home to get evidence against her," 15 June 2018 Both sides have complaints about violations of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but would like to keep it alive. The Economist, "Vladimir Putin’s hopes for his long-awaited meeting with Donald Trump," 14 July 2018 Galena Park mayor Esmeralda Moya said in a statement that her office investigated the complaints about spotting and discovered the Valero leak had caused it. Katherine Blunt, Houston Chronicle, "Valero agrees to pay for damages caused by East Houston oil leak," 13 July 2018 Judge Ellis addressed Manafort’s complaints about location by ordering his transfer to an Alexandria prison. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Paul Manafort Is Getting Transferred out of His 'VIP' Prison," 12 July 2018 An internal investigation reportedly showed that Hornsey had ignored multiple anonymous complaints about the mistreatment of employees of color at the ride-hailing firm. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Uber’s HR chief steps down after reportedly ignoring racial discrimination complaints," 11 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about complaint

Phrases Related to complaint

grounds for complaint

Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complaint

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of complaint 

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

Keep scrolling for more



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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on complaint

What made you want to look up complaint? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!