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.

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

The Community Oversight Task Force, known as COTF, issued a 74-page report this month that recommends disbanding the Civilian Review Board, which currently investigates civilian complaints. Jessica Anderson,, "Panel reviewing police civilian oversight calls for more powerful 'independent police accountability agency'," 13 July 2018 Both initiatives have prompted complaints from the public, the Coastal Commission and other groups that the wraps and kiosks are visual blight that damage the character of the waterfront. David Garrick,, "Public outcry prompts port to shelve looser policy for building wrap ads," 13 July 2018 McIntyre said in a statement a complaint has not yet been filed. CBS News, "Arizona state lawmaker pulled over for speeding tells deputy on video he sometimes drives 140 mph," 13 July 2018 But that doesn’t sit well with Lake Superior’s southern neighbors who have their own complaints. Tony Briscoe,, "What happens when Lake Superior has too much water? It dumps it into an already overflowing Lake Michigan," 13 July 2018 Her primary complaint is with Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours, which operates from a private marina about a half mile south of her home. Ryan Gillespie,, "Despite new law, homeowners on Lake Toho still complain about airboat noise," 13 July 2018 Their complaints to the carriers’ supervisors were largely brushed off, the couple said. Maria Cramer,, "Facing off with the US Postal Service," 13 July 2018 The affidavits were signed after Hall filed his complaint, triggering the state Charter Board investigation. Craig Harris, azcentral, "Arizona charter school founder makes millions building his own schools," 11 July 2018 According to her complaint, supervisors declined D’Onofrio’s requests to have an interpreter or to have communications written down for her. Ron Hurtibise,, "Deaf ex-employee wins $775,000 in discrimination case against Pompano Beach Costco," 10 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.

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

Phrases Related to complaint

grounds for complaint

Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for complaint

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

3 : petition

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).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!