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Syllabification: com·plain
Pronunciation: /kəmˈplān

Definition of complain in English:


1 [with object] Express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event: local authorities complained that they lacked sufficient resources [no object]: “You never listen to me,” Larry complained [no object]: we all complained bitterly about the food
More example sentences
  • She said local people had complained bitterly about the lack of notice for the plan to extend the deadline by a year.
  • Mrs Owen complained to an attendant but was dissatisfied with the response.
  • He complained to the local authority about the noises and smells from his neighbour's farm.
1.1 [no object] (complain of) State that one is suffering from (a pain or other symptom of illness): her husband began to complain of headaches
More example sentences
  • She suffered a cut to her ankle and also complained of a whiplash-like pain.
  • So, when a child complains of back pain, one has to act fast and go for a thorough investigation.
  • With no real operation having taken place, the patient does not feel any pain, complains of no scars, and can walk home immediately afterwards.
1.2 [no object] State a grievance: they complained to the French government
1.3 [no object] literary Make a mournful sound: let the warbling flute complain
1.4 [no object] (Of a structure or mechanism) groan or creak under strain.
Example sentences
  • I yelled while the muscles on my body were complaining with great strain.
  • As if to torment them further, the steps creaked, complaining with each step they made loud enough to wake the dead.
  • After two years of being asked to do nothing more than growl and yip, my voice-box complained at the strain of speech.


late Middle English: from Old French complaindre, from medieval Latin complangere 'bewail', from com- (expressing intensive force) + plangere 'to lament'.



Example sentences
  • It merely brands you as the department's top grumbler, grouch and complainer.
  • How do you handle persistent complainers or moaners effectively?
  • It seems that it is the complainers and grumblers who express their opinions.


Example sentences
  • We are accustomed to governments not doing what we elect them to do, so we carry on uncomplainingly (or complainingly in my case) without demanding answers from our elected representative.
  • The rich moved complainingly into well-fortified hotels, and the police and firemen helped themselves to the contents of bombed or abandoned homes.
  • She is calling attention to her clothes, complainingly.

Definition of complain in:

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