complain

verb

com·​plain kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio)
complained; complaining; complains

intransitive verb

1
: to express grief, pain, or discontent
complaining about the weather
2
: to make a formal accusation or charge
He threatened to complain of him to the captain.
complainer noun
complainingly adverb

Example Sentences

He works hard but he never complains. If you're unhappy with the service, you should complain to the manager. The students complained that the test was too hard. “These shoes are too tight,” he complained.
Recent Examples on the Web Other whistleblowers will complain that they were either not paid at all for their work, or were not given proper overtime compensation. Alice Hearing, Fortune, 15 Nov. 2022 Providence teachers still complain about Taveras firing all of them in 2011, even though virtually none of them actually lost their jobs. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Nov. 2022 His critics complain about his spending choices in the election. The Editors, National Review, 14 Nov. 2022 Some reviewers complain of durability issues, especially with zippers snagging early on and ultimately breaking. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 12 Nov. 2022 Compliance teams complain of trouble retaining staff burnt out by the growing demands. Arkansas Online, 8 Nov. 2022 Across the Global South, small farmers often complain of unfair treatment by foreign mining companies. Nick Roll, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Nov. 2022 Gao turned to the She-Hulk comics and saw how the character literally ripped through the pages in John Byrne's run to jump through panels, argue with the writer, and even went to the Marvel offices to complain about her story arc. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, 21 Oct. 2022 That type of rhetoric comes from a long history of White people questioning the loyalty of Black citizens who complain about discrimination in the United States, Jackson said. Annie Linskey, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'complain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English compleynen, from Anglo-French compleindre, from Vulgar Latin *complangere, from Latin com- + plangere to lament — more at plaint

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near complain

Cite this Entry

“Complain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complain. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

complain

verb

com·​plain kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio)
1
: to express grief, pain, or discontent : find fault
complaining about the weather
2
: to accuse someone of wrongdoing
complainer noun
complainingly adverb

Medical Definition

complain

intransitive verb

com·​plain kəm-ˈplān How to pronounce complain (audio)
: to speak of one's illness or symptoms
the patient visited the office complaining of weight loss

Legal Definition

complain

intransitive verb

com·​plain
: to make a complaint

More from Merriam-Webster on complain

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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