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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Most at the demonstration expressed frustration and confusion about a policy that didn’t make sense to them. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Aug. 2022 As the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to rising cases of monkeypox, members of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community expressed frustration and anger over the government’s response. Tony Bravo, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 July 2022 Because in that world of the missing in America, the one with so many questions, so few answers and so much frustration and heartache... Dateline Nbc, NBC News, 27 July 2022 Grace Moreno, executive director of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, expressed frustration and anger with the hate group’s protest Sunday. Nick Stoico,, 24 July 2022 Outtakes of the taping played Thursday evening by the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol revealed the former president’s frustration and pique at struggling through his script. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 22 July 2022 African American voters are going through a season of heartbreak, frustration and disappointment with the Biden administration. Van Jones, CNN, 20 July 2022 Believing this can lead to frustration and poor results, mainly because digital solutions need a different logic from the one powering analog processes. Nacho De Marco, Forbes, 11 July 2022 One of them is pandemic isolation, that people are really cooped up, isolated and don't have places to turn for outlets for their frustration and anger. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 7 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of frustration

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About frustration

Time Traveler for frustration

Time Traveler

The first known use of frustration was circa 1555

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near frustration




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for frustration

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Frustration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for frustration


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


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on frustration

Nglish: Translation of frustration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frustration for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about frustration


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!