griev·​ance | \ ˈgrē-vən(t)s How to pronounce grievance (audio) \

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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Synonyms for grievance


down [chiefly British], grudge, resentment, score

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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

But a subsequent grievance filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association resulted in an agreement that teams could be away from home no longer than 17 consecutive days – not enough for FIFA. Mark Zeigler,, "Why San Diego won't be a venue in the 2026 World Cup," 13 June 2018 The depositions were made for a grievance filed by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who claims he has been blackballed by the league over anthem protests. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "Dolphins owner claims in deposition Trump influenced anthem protest talks, report says," 30 May 2018 The deposition of Jones and Ross came in response to a grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick against the NFL after the quarterback remained unsigned through the 2017 season. Christopher Dabe,, "Donald Trump to Jerry Jones on anthem protests, 'You can't win this one': report," 30 May 2018 Enquirer Bengals beat writers Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. run through a few news items following the draft, including the grievance filed by Eric Reid and safety summit about the kickoff involving special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Paul Dehner Jr.,, "Bengals Beat Podcast: Recalibrating the 53," 8 May 2018 The Twitter inquiry turned up a handful of grievances from men and women about Mr. Kroll’s habit of lashing out at employees and his moodiness, the former executive said. Yoree Koh, WSJ, "The Tech Whiz Behind Vine and HQ Trivia Made Millions in His 20s. He Was Dead by 34.," 15 Feb. 2019 By the end of the song, Kelly has admitted to very little other than having a very long list of grievances. Constance Grady, Vox, "R. Kelly released a 19-minute song called “I Admit.” It doesn’t admit much.," 23 July 2018 North Korea has a long list of other grievances, and could demand the removal of U.S. troops, or even the U.S. nuclear umbrella, from South Korea. Matt Stiles,, "Trump and Kim both want 'denuclearization' but disagree on what that means," 2 June 2018 Reid’s grievance against the league from last season is still in process, as is Kaepernick’s. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Outspoken Voice of the NFL Player Protests—and It Isn’t Colin Kaepernick," 13 Nov. 2018

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

15 Apr 2019

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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 How to pronounce grievance (audio) \

Kids Definition of grievance

: a reason for complaining


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

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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Comments on grievance

What made you want to look up grievance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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