griev·​ance | \ˈgrē-vən(t)s \

Definition of grievance 

1 obsolete : suffering, distress

2 : a cause of distress (such as an unsatisfactory working condition) felt to afford reason for complaint or resistance Her chief grievance was the sexual harassment by her boss.

3 : the formal expression of a grievance : complaint filed a grievance against her employer

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Choose the Right Synonym for grievance

injustice, injury, wrong, grievance mean an act that inflicts undeserved hurt. injustice applies to any act that involves unfairness to another or violation of one's rights. the injustices suffered by the lower classes injury applies in law specifically to an injustice for which one may sue to recover compensation. libel constitutes a legal injury wrong applies also in law to any act punishable according to the criminal code; it may apply more generally to any flagrant injustice. determined to right society's wrongs grievance applies to a circumstance or condition that constitutes an injustice to the sufferer and gives just ground for complaint. a list of employee grievances

Examples of grievance in a Sentence

He has a deep sense of grievance against his former employer. She has been nursing a grievance all week. In the petition, the students listed their many grievances against the university administration. Several customers came to the front desk to air their grievances.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In collective bargaining, teachers can negotiate over such matters as class sizes, grievance procedures, layoff policies and teacher evaluations. Howard Blume,, "After Supreme Court loss, school-employees unions gird for fight to keep their members," 28 June 2018 Republicans can’t survive without the support of their white base, which binds them, for now, to the grievance politics that put Trump in office. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "What’s Next for Evangelicalism?," 7 June 2018 The court system’s attorney grievance committee investigates complaints to determine what action, if any, should be taken. Liz Robbins, New York Times, "‘Disgusted’ Officials File Complaint Against Man in Anti-Immigrant Rant," 17 May 2018 Such an expression is interpreted to be a desire to utilize the grievance process as opposed to the solution propounded by the administration. Nicole Blanchard, idahostatesman, "Idaho cheerleaders sue school district, claim they were kicked off squad for sit-in | Idaho Statesman," 28 Feb. 2018 More: Ex-kitchen worker pleads guilty to trying to smuggle heroin into Ionia prison A development last week may cast Rohrig's grievance hearing in a new light. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Fired Jackson prison manager who complained about smuggling seeks vindication," 6 Feb. 2018 The subject of the grievance, Stuart Dornette, is a partner at Taft and happens to be the Cincinnati Bengals’ attorney. Chrissie Thompson,, "Taft law firm should have disclosed conflict of interest, grievance says," 25 June 2018 As Benjamin, the only white male in the office, is about to ascend, his coworkers take turns airing grievances, offering him congratulations, sneaking in final furtive trysts, and wondering aloud about the injustices of their respective fates. Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Reader, "Refrigerator is a chilling look into the near future," 25 May 2018 His story raises another long-standing grievance that contributed to Syria's downfall: pervasive official corruption. John Wendle, Scientific American, "The Ominous Story of Syria's Climate Refugees," 17 Dec. 2015

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for grievance

see grieve

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Statistics for grievance

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grievance

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

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More Definitions for grievance



English Language Learners Definition of grievance

: a feeling of having been treated unfairly

: a reason for complaining or being unhappy with a situation

: a statement in which you say you are unhappy or not satisfied with something


griev·​ance | \ˈgrē-vəns \

Kids Definition of grievance

: a reason for complaining


griev·​ance | \ˈgrē-vəns \

Legal Definition of grievance 

1 : a cause of distress (as an unsatisfactory working condition or unfair labor practice) felt to afford a reason for complaint or dispute especially : a violation of a collective bargaining agreement usually by the employer

2 : the formal expression of a grievance brought especially by an employee as the initial step toward resolution through a grievance procedure — see also arbitration, grievance arbitration at arbitration, mediation

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