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.

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 During a one-year pilot program, officers who used the cameras received fewer civilian complaints and use-of-force reports, according to a report police commissioned from Northeastern University researchers last year., "In September, prosecutors used footage from a Boston police officer’s body camera to convince a judge that a defendant was dangerous and should be held in custody.," 1 Dec. 2019 According to the complaint, Griffith was employed by an organization that functions as an open-source platform for the development of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, "Prosecutors: Noted American coder taught North Korea how to evade sanctions with cryptocurrency," 29 Nov. 2019 According to the complaint, the day before the collapse, Ramirez Palma was working on the 14th floor and noticed the floor shifting like a small earthquake. Maria Cartaya And Amir Vera, CNN, "ICE deported a worker injured in the New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse, his lawyers claim he was targeted," 29 Nov. 2019 The complaints from neighboring businesses focused on traffic impediment and loss of clientele as Dutch Bros. customers used neighboring parking lots, alleyways and public streets. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "After months of drama, here's when central Phoenix's controversial Dutch Bros. will close," 29 Nov. 2019 Jones, who lodged a formal complaint, notes that issues had come up before concerning her hair, but WJTV-TV and its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, have refuted her claims. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Black Women Against The World: They Can't Take Our CROWNS," 27 Nov. 2019 Again, Apple has addressed a common complaint here—albeit one from a pretty niche subset of users. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "2019 16-inch MacBook Pro review: Bye-bye, butterfly," 25 Nov. 2019 The one complaint, from Tristen, was about the cold. Ty Vinson, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana 4th graders do their best to honor the flag, struggle to understand impeachment," 24 Nov. 2019 Multnomah County staff mishandled hundreds of mental health abuse complaints, a report finds. oregonlive, "New measles risk at PDX airport after infected child passed through: Morning Briefing for Thursday, Nov. 21," 21 Nov. 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.

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

Time Traveler for complaint

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Complaint.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

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).


delight or enjoyment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!