View synonyms for complain


[ kuhm-pleyn ]

verb (used without object)

  1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault:

    He complained constantly about the noise in the corridor.

    Antonyms: rejoice

  2. to tell of one's pains, ailments, etc.:

    to complain of a backache.

  3. to make a formal accusation:

    If you think you've been swindled, complain to the police.


/ kəmˈpleɪn /


  1. to express resentment, displeasure, etc, esp habitually; grumble
  2. foll by of to state the presence of pain, illness, etc, esp in the hope of sympathy

    she complained of a headache

“Collins English Dictionary — Complete & Unabridged” 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Derived Forms

  • comˈplainingly, adverb
  • comˈplainer, noun
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Other Words From

  • com·plaina·ble adjective
  • com·plainer noun
  • com·plaining·ly adverb
  • uncom·plained adjective
  • uncom·plaining adjective
  • uncom·plaining·ly adverb
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Word History and Origins

Origin of complain1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English compleinen, from Anglo-French compleign-, stem of compleindre, Old French complaindre, from Vulgar Latin complangere (unrecorded), from Latin com- com- + plangere “to beat, lament, strike”; plaint
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Word History and Origins

Origin of complain1

C14: from Old French complaindre, from Vulgar Latin complangere (unattested), from Latin com- (intensive) + plangere to bewail
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Idioms and Phrases

see can't complain .
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Synonym Study

Complain, grumble, growl, whine are terms for expressing dissatisfaction or discomfort. To complain is to protest against or lament a wrong: to complain about high prices. To grumble is to utter ill-natured complaints half to oneself: to grumble about the service. Growl may express more anger than grumble : to growl in reply to a question. To whine is to complain in a meanspirited way, using a nasal tone: to whine like a coward, like a spoiled child.
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Example Sentences

But, I mean, I’m part of a Facebook group for my class, and a lot of Wesleyan upperclassmen have been complaining about kids, like freshmen, going around asking for parties.

From Fortune

As the city takes steps to repeal a 102-year-old law banning seditious language, new details about how police wielded the law paint a picture of random harassment and punishment for those who complained.

Developers complain that titles waiting for App Store review sometimes take weeks to be cleared.

From Fortune

It is pure metaphysics, he complains, that has lost contact with empirical reality.

The venerable Bill Thurston was known to complain about the perversity which, by the end of his career, had produced Thurston’s theorem, which says that Thurston maps are Thurston-equivalent to polynomials, unless they have Thurston obstructions.

And it might be what Islamists complain about while sitting in their caves.

I could complain about how, two out of eight episodes in, Agent Carter is in no hurry to introduce its real villain.

On the one hand, residents of these neighborhoods complain of over-policing.

When they complain that there is no future for them here,” she confides after a long pause, “I worry they are right.

“His wife went for the visit and suddenly started to complain about the cuts,” Guadalupe told The Daily Beast.

Only in the pursuit of agriculture can the black man not complain that he is discriminated against on account of his color.

Teachers often complain that they can never induce some of their pupils to ask questions on their tasks.

He could not complain of the neglect of mankind, or of the ingratitude of those he served.

After a few days of excessive nervousness the most timorous among the women were heard to complain of the monotony of existence!

Having at last regained the Emperor's favour, the Marshal had never again to complain of lack of employment.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.