noun com·plaint \kəm-ˈplānt\

Definition of complaint

  1. 1 :  expression of grief, pain, or dissatisfaction She did her chores without complaint.

  2. 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. 3 :  a formal allegation against a party The complaint alleges sexual harassment.

Examples of complaint in a sentence

  1. The board has received a number of complaints about the new policy.

  2. The company has a system to handle customer complaints.

  3. The lack of parking spaces is a common complaint among the city's residents.

  4. The lack of financial support is our biggest complaint.

  5. He is being treated for a stomach complaint.

  6. Shortness of breath was a common complaint among the patients.

Origin and Etymology of complaint

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

First Known Use: 14th century

COMPLAINT Defined for English Language Learners


noun com·plaint \kəm-ˈplānt\

Definition of complaint for English Language Learners

  • : 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

COMPLAINT Defined for Kids


noun com·plaint \kəm-ˈplānt\

Definition of complaint for Students

  1. 1 :  expression of grief, pain, or discontent He does his work without complaint.

  2. 2 :  a cause or reason for expressing grief, pain, or discontent The noise is my biggest complaint.

  3. 3 :  a sickness or disease of the body a stomach complaint

  4. 4 :  a charge of wrongdoing against a person What's her complaint against me?

Medical Dictionary


noun com·plaint \kəm-ˈplānt\

Medical Definition of complaint

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

Law Dictionary


noun com·plaint

Legal Definition of complaint

  1. 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. 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. 3 :  petition

Seen and Heard

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


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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