griev·​ance ˈgrē-vən(t)s How to pronounce grievance (audio)
: 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.
: the formal expression of a grievance : complaint
filed a grievance against her employer
obsolete : suffering, distress
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Justin Hartley's first wife defends him after Selling Sunset premieres Days after Stause aired her grievances on Selling Sunset, Hartley's first wife and mother to daughter Isabella, Passions actress Lindsay Korman-Hartley, released a statement on Instagram on Aug. 12 defending him. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 Republican lawmakers were set to air grievances about the charges brought against former President Trump and the ongoing special counsel investigation of the president’s son, Hunter Biden. Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 Many Republican grievances against Wolfe are over decisions made by the elections commission and carried out by Wolfe, as she is bound by law to do. Harm Venhuizen, Chicago Tribune, 14 Sep. 2023 Orchestras now have unions, human resource departments and protocols for processing grievances and addressing harassment and bullying. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 Jessie James Decker aired grievances with an airline after sister her Sydney was allegedly forced to clean up popcorn left behind by her kids as passengers watched. Fox News, 28 Aug. 2023 Hurst blames dog whistles from Republicans, especially former President Donald Trump, who is again riding the politics of white grievance in his bid to return to the White House. Bobby Caina Calvan, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Aug. 2023 Its six-week retrograde stirred up home drama, but certain grievances had to be shared. USA TODAY, 3 Sep. 2023 Yet Putin’s Russia avidly fostered ties with non-Western countries, often by invoking historical grievances about the West. Michael Kimmage and Hanna Notte, Foreign Affairs, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'grievance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see grieve

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near grievance

Cite this Entry

“Grievance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


griev·​ance ˈgrē-vən(t)s How to pronounce grievance (audio)
: a cause of distress giving reason for complaint
: the formal expression of a grievance : complaint

Legal Definition


griev·​ance ˈgrē-vəns How to pronounce grievance (audio)
: 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
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on grievance

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