frus·​tra·​tion | \ (ˌ)frə-ˈstrā-shən How to pronounce frustration (audio) \

Definition of frustration

1 : the act of frustrating the frustration of creative instinct is a notorious evil of the machine ageThe Times Literary Supplement (London)
2a : the state or an instance of being frustrated These bureaucratic delays have been causing us a lot of frustration.
b : a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs loneliness and frustration; those are two constant themes in American literature— Malcolm Cowley
3 : something that frustrates the government's frustrations with seemingly insoluble problems

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Examples of frustration in a Sentence

He shook his head in frustration. These bureaucratic delays have been causing us a lot of frustration. These delays have proven to be a major frustration. We've been experiencing a lot of frustrations. He was angry about the frustration of his plans.
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Recent Examples on the Web Brannen expressed frustration about his team's offense down the stretch and in overtime. Fletcher Page,, "Cincinnati basketball's five-game win streak snapped by UConn," 9 Feb. 2020 Sanders expressed frustration with the delay but counseled patience. Nicholas Riccardi, Anchorage Daily News, "What went wrong in Iowa and what’s next," 5 Feb. 2020 The faulty kickoff led Democratic candidates to express frustration. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Iowa’s Tally-by-App Experiment Fails," 5 Feb. 2020 Others from his building express frustration at seeing someone ripping off seniors, too. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Wait, did your tax preparer just take a cut of your refund? Here's how to stay safe," 30 Jan. 2020 Samantha was past that level and expressed frustration when campers weren’t doing layup drills correctly. David Hinojosa,, "Reagan freshman way ahead of the game," 25 Jan. 2020 Some lawmakers have expressed frustration with the trial’s strict rules. Dustin Gardiner,, "Apple Watches slip into Senate despite Trump trial ban on electronics," 23 Jan. 2020 After the rejection from Santander, the dos Santos employee turned to a Portuguese proverb to express frustration at being denied by bank after bank. Max De Haldevang, Quartz Africa, "How Africa’s richest woman bought her way out of scrutiny from Western banks," 19 Jan. 2020 Musallam then advised her to go to a domestic-violence shelter and Haley expressed frustration that officials were not taking her abuse allegations seriously. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Missing mom Mary Cathleen Haley located, arrested on grand larceny charges, West Virginia sheriff says," 21 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frustration.' 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 frustration

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for frustration

Time Traveler

The first known use of frustration was circa 1555

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Statistics for frustration

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Frustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for frustration


How to pronounce frustration (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frustration

: a feeling of anger or annoyance caused by being unable to do something : the state of being frustrated
: something that causes feelings of anger and annoyance
: the fact of being prevented from succeeding or doing something


frus·​tra·​tion | \ ˌfrə-ˈstrā-shən How to pronounce frustration (audio) \

Kids Definition of frustration


frus·​tra·​tion | \ (ˌ)frəs-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce frustration (audio) \

Medical Definition of frustration

1 : a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs
2 : something that frustrates

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frus·​tra·​tion | \ ˌfrəs-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce frustration (audio) \

Legal Definition of frustration

1a : the act of frustrating
b : the state or an instance of being frustrated
c : something that frustrates
2 : a common-law doctrine of contract law: parties to a contract may be excused from performance even though performance is still possible if the reason for making the contract is partially or completely frustrated by a fortuitous event or by circumstances which are not the fault of either party

called also frustration of purpose, frustration of the venture

— compare cause sense 4, force majeure clause, impossibility, impracticability

Note: In order for frustration to be used as a successful defense to a breach of contract claim, the reason for making the contract must have been contemplated or recognized by both the contracting parties even though it was not expressed in the contract.

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