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

Definition of grievance

1 : 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.
2 : the formal expression of a grievance : complaint filed a grievance against her employer
3 obsolete : suffering, distress

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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

Both countries combined rapid industrialization at home with a policy of grievance abroad. WSJ, "Wilhelmine Germany Is a Better Analogy for China," 27 Mar. 2019 But those fights sort of morph into hearings—grievances aired, context disclosed, perspectives explained and vetted—all that. Marie Claire, "A New Couple, A Newer Home, and 2 Paychecks," 7 Feb. 2019 The attacker had been dismissed from his job at the station two years earlier, in 2013, and had a history of conflict at work allegedly fueled by racial grievances. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "Capital Gazette shooting highlights the dangers facing today's journalists," 3 July 2018 The rally cries were similar to Occupy, as were the grievances. Anna Orso,, "Inside the Philadelphia Occupy ICE camp that police raided Thursday," 5 July 2018 For all the pledges of doing what's in the best interest of the American people or engaging in a high-minded conversation about policy, what motivates politicians is often petty grievances. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "The wild story of how a decades-old feud in Idaho almost caused a government shutdown," 2 Apr. 2018 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

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 3

History and Etymology for grievance

see grieve

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Statistics for grievance

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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 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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