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

Shareholders’ chief complaint has been that Dell was overestimating the value of its shares—and thus underestimating the value of DVMT stock. Dana Cimilluca, WSJ, "Dell Sweetens Key Deal Terms in Path Back to Public Markets," 15 Nov. 2018 Whitaker’s open sympathizing with Trump’s frequent complaints about the Mueller investigation resulted in an unusually close relationship between a president and a staffer of his level. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “Mueller Protection Rapid Response”," 11 Nov. 2018 Many of the alleged survivors blame USC for not listening to complaints against Tyndall earlier. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Inside the USC Sexual Abuse Scandal: Three Women Tell Their Stories," 26 Oct. 2018 The complaints that the story gives little insight or growth are well founded. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "People Are Calling Jennifer Garner 'Unlikable' in Camping—But That's Missing the Point," 17 Oct. 2018 This prompted complaints that the Sussexes inappropriately overshadowed the newlyweds' big day. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "No, Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Didn't Announce Their Pregnancy at Eugenie & Jack's Wedding," 15 Oct. 2018 How many complaint reports have been made at this residence? Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The World of 2045," 14 Oct. 2018 Many even started using the hashtag #AmericasGotSingers to drive home their point: The same complaint also emerged earlier this season when the judges were using their golden buzzers. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'America's Got Talent' Results From Last Night Are Making Fans Lose It," 30 Aug. 2018 Twitter's a good option: The platform has long been a helpful forum for airline complaints, and carriers have entire customer support teams monitoring the service for passenger gripes and questions. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "Etihad Airways Just Stepped Up Their Customer Service Game," 19 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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Learn More about complaint

Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

20 Nov 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).


noxious or harmful

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