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 According to the whistleblower complaint, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, career prosecutors had asked their supervisor for permission to convene a grand jury in July 2017 in a formal memorandum. Byron Tau, WSJ, "Two Officers in Tamir Rice’s Fatal Shooting Won’t Face Federal Charges," 30 Dec. 2020 The complaint, filed Dec. 23 in San Diego Superior Court, is directed against Gov. Gavin Newsom, Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer and the California Department of Public Health, among others. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "25 more fitness centers suing county, state officials over COVID-19 restrictions," 30 Dec. 2020 And there’s the industry’s number one complaint: DNA that twists left instead of right. Sara Harrison, Wired, "In a Pandemic, Medical Illustrators Made Science Accessible," 29 Dec. 2020 Every video is saved for a minimum of 90 days, but if there’s a citizen complaint, use of force, or an injury, the video is retained for a minimum of two years, Lettieri explained. Anna Kim,, "Northlake police launching body-worn cameras, expect all officers to wear them," 29 Dec. 2020 At Travis Air Force Base, where the monotony of turkey sandwiches was a frequent complaint, a widower who had been in room B206 on the boat spent $5,800 to have 475 Dominoes cheese pizzas delivered to his companions in quarantine. Los Angeles Times, "‘We called it Voyage of the Damned’: Days of despair on the Grand Princess," 23 Dec. 2020 The department's complaint, which was filed Tuesday, says a multi-year investigation found Walmart had violated the Controlled Substances Act in multiple ways — both as an operator of pharmacies and its wholesale drug distribution centers. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "3 things that could steal Christmas for Wall Street," 23 Dec. 2020 The complaint released by Paxton’s office list attorneys with private firms in Houston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., as the lead lawyers on the case. Jake Bleiberg And Michael Liedtke, USA TODAY, "Texas AG takes on Google in multistate lawsuit over 'monopolistic power' in online advertising," 17 Dec. 2020 The complaint, which was filed Dec. 12 with the city of Franklin, Tenn. — where Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions, is based — was confirmed Monday by city administrator Eric Stuckey. NBC News, "Caterers at finance guru Dave Ramsey's holiday party told not to wear masks, complaint says," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for complaint

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Complaint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for complaint


How to pronounce complaint (audio)

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

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