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 Thursday’s website issues were another frustration for those trying to access a COVID-19 vaccine. Globe Staff,, "Mass. vaccine appointment website experiences technical issues due to high traffic," 18 Feb. 2021 The result, said Medical Alley's Mandle, is a collective frustration among business leaders whose companies suffer and whose long-term goals must move to a back burner. Jim Spencer, Star Tribune, "Vaccinations must be Job 1 for Biden administration, Minnesota business leaders say," 30 Jan. 2021 It’s been such a frustration that the top spokesman for incoming Senate Armed Services Committee chairman had to send a memo to reporters downplaying his boss’ power. Philip Elliott, Time, "Why Mitch McConnell Is Filibustering to Protect the Filibuster," 22 Jan. 2021 Over the months that followed, Fauci was a regular frustration to Trump, given that same prioritization of accuracy and research over gut feelings and platitudes. Author: Philip Bump, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: Fauci, unchained? The leading U.S. infectious-disease expert exults in being able to speak frankly," 21 Jan. 2021 The order appears to be only fanning frustration, if not outright defiance, even by public officials. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Dec. 10-16," 26 Dec. 2020 The comments reflect what people familiar with Mr. Biden’s thinking say is his growing frustration with the public and private pressure campaigns. New York Times, "Biden Faces Intense Pressure From All Sides as He Seeks Diverse Cabinet," 12 Dec. 2020 After the game, there was frustration that replay officials didn’t see things the way SDSU did but also the realization that challenges often don’t work out. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Decade later, ‘Replaygate’ loss to BYU still stings Aztecs," 10 Dec. 2020 But for an administration that championed America First, there is frustration that other countries have reached the finish line ahead of Trump and his $12 billion Operation Warp Speed program to rush COVID-19 vaccines to market. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "White House urges FDA to hurry vaccine rollout after Britain beat US to approval," 2 Dec. 2020

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

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Frustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

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More Definitions for frustration



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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