[ kuhm-pleyn ]
See synonyms for: complaincomplainedcomplainingcomplainer on

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.

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

  1. to make a formal accusation: If you think you've been swindled, complain to the police.

Origin of complain

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”; see plaint

synonym study For complain

1. 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.

Opposites for complain

Other words from complain

  • 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use complain in a sentence

  • Although Achan was the only offender, he was probably far from being the only complainer on that occasion.

  • I heard the miserable little complainer unmoved as long as I could; after a while, putting down my book, I went into the nursery.

    Rutledge | Miriam Coles Harris
  • I see that you think you have effectually disposed of all complaint by challenging the complainer to suggest a remedy.

    The Potiphar Papers | George William Curtis
  • It is for the complainer's relief, not for God's information.

  • "Together we make sweetest harmony," returned the bell next the complainer.

    Allegories of Life | Mrs. J. S. Adams

British Dictionary definitions for complain


/ (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

Origin of complain

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

Derived forms of complain

  • complainer, noun
  • complainingly, adverb

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with complain


see can't complain.

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