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.

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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 alleges Facebook is guilty of unlawful business practices, deceit by concealment, negligence, and violations of California’s Customer Records Act. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Facebook faces class-action lawsuit over massive new hack," 28 Sep. 2018 The main complaint: People were hoping for a more official official video. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson Fans Are Seriously Upset About Her New Music Video for 'Heat'," 1 Aug. 2018 As with the previous apparel that elicited complaints, the shirts were sold by a third-party vendor. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Walmart Was Once Again Forced to Pull an Offensive Shirt From Its Website," 12 July 2018 The original complaint outlining the charges against Winslow II points to five alleged offenses since March. Teri Figueroa,, "Accusers fail to identify Winslow II in court," 11 July 2018 The disagreement escalated to a Judicial Qualifications Commission complaint, a voluntary transfer to the family division, and a public reprimand from the Supreme Court last February. Rafael Olmeda,, "Broward Judge Contini resigns abruptly," 6 July 2018 Earlier in the night, the department said the 911 system was being overrun with fireworks complaints, and reminded residents to call the number that was set up specifically to take those — 817-392-4444. Nichole Manna, star-telegram, "Fort Worth's fireworks show was so large it showed up on National Weather Service radar," 5 July 2018 According to Policy IJKAA-R, once CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer receives the complaint, a committee will be formed to review the material. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "South Carolina Police Union Whines About Police Brutality Novel The Hate U Give Being on A School's Summer Reading List," 4 July 2018 Berson left the store with a man and a woman without paying for $1,635.95 in merchandise, the complaint alleged. Adriana Ramirez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha man shot and wounded by deputy during chase after stealing from Delafield Kohl's, police say," 3 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.

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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

4 Dec 2018

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 \

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

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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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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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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