[ kuhm-pleynt ]
/ kəmˈpleɪnt /
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See synonyms for: complaint / complaints on Thesaurus.com

an expression of discontent, regret, pain, censure, resentment, or grief; lament; faultfinding: his complaint about poor schools.
a cause of discontent, pain, grief, lamentation, etc.
a cause of bodily pain or ailment; malady: The doctor says I suffer from a rare complaint.
Law. the first pleading of the plaintiff in a civil action, stating the cause of action.
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Origin of complaint

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English compleynte, from Middle French complainte, from Latin com- com- + plancta plaint


coun·ter·com·plaint, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does complaint mean?

A complaint is a statement about something you’re unhappy or upset about. It has more specific meanings in legal and medical contexts.

Complaint is the noun form of the verb complain. In legal terms, a complaint is the document that officially initiates a legal proceeding. In medicine, it refers to a symptom or cause of pain as reported by a patient.

Example: I liked the movie, but my one complaint is that the women in the cast didn’t get enough screen time.

Where does complaint come from?

The first records of complaint come from the 1300s. It ultimately derives from the Latin planctus, meaning “the striking or beating of one’s breast in grief.” Planctus is equivalent to the Latin verb plang(ere), meaning “to strike” or “to mourn for.” (This sense of mourning is seen in the related word plaintive, which means “mournful” or “expressing sorrow.”)

When people complain, they are stating complaints. But complaints can be more serious than saying that you wish it weren’t raining. Sometimes, complaints are made (especially lodged or filed) in an official way, such as a complaint against a fellow employee, or a government whistle-blower complaint. In a legal context, complaints can be filed in both criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case, the complaint makes the charges official. In a civil case, the complaint is filed by the plaintiff (sometimes called the complainant). It initiates a lawsuit by providing general information about the nature of the claim and giving notice to the person or party that the lawsuit is being brought against. In medicine, complaint typically refers to the symptom that someone is seeking medical assistance for, as in The patient presented with a complaint of numbness in his left knee.

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What are some other forms related to complaint?

  • complain (verb)
  • countercomplaint (noun)

What are some synonyms for complaint?



What are some words that share a root or word element with complaint

What are some words that often get used in discussing complaint?


How is complaint used in real life?

Complaint is very commonly used in a general way to refer to any expression of dissatisfaction. But it often indicates some degree of official status. In legal and medical contexts, it has a more specific meaning and is used in a more serious tone.



Try using complaint!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of complaint?

  1. grievance
  2. accusation
  3. statement
  4. gripe

How to use complaint in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for complaint

/ (kəmˈpleɪnt) /

the act of complaining; an expression of grievance
a cause for complaining; grievance
a mild ailment
English law a statement by which a civil proceeding in a magistrates' court is commenced
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