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.

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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 In the city’s response to the trustees’ complaint, filed March 26, officials denied that the taking caused damages and a reduction in the value of the university’s remaining portion of the property., "Newton, Boston College spar in court over value of Webster Woods," 7 Apr. 2021 The lawsuit is tied to a 2017 race discrimination complaint filed by Hudson in which outside investigators concluded that Joyce and Gettings, both white, harassed Hudson, who is Black. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, "Cleveland police veteran tapped as RTA police chief," 7 Apr. 2021 Although many food services are restricted to carryout, deliveries and outdoor dining or limitations on indoor seating, complaint inspections will continue during the coronavirus crisis. Washington Post, "Health code violations in the District, Maryland and Virginia," 7 Apr. 2021 The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint four days later, but not before it had been endorsed by 17 Republican Attorneys General and 126 Republican congressional lawmakers. Alana Abramson, Time, "Marc Elias Fought Trump's 2020 Election Lawsuits. Can He Win The Battle Over Voting Rights?," 6 Apr. 2021 The Houston Police Department is investigating a criminal complaint against Watson. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, "First woman to file sexual assault lawsuit against Texans QB Deshaun Watson holds press conference," 6 Apr. 2021 Wilson was transported to a local hospital after the shooting and died six days later on March 17, the complaint adds. Sarah Moon, CNN, "Family of Black man fatally shot by Northern California police officer files civil rights lawsuit," 6 Apr. 2021 Windsor police took Nicholas Latina, 30, into custody on April 2 after responding to a suspicious person complaint at a local store, Police Chief Donald Melanson said. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Police: Seafood Bandit suspect arrested in Windsor," 6 Apr. 2021 The complaint alleges a series of missteps by the officer — such as not attempting to create space between himself and Wilson, and not taking cover after Wilson allegedly drew a folding knife. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Family of Tyrell Wilson sues Danville over fatal police shooting," 6 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for complaint

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for complaint

Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Complaint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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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 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

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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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