Definition of complain in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəmˈplān/


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.
protest, grumble, whine, bleat, carp, cavil, grouse, make a fuss;
object, speak out, criticize, find fault
informal kick up a fuss, raise a stink, bellyache, moan, snivel, beef, bitch, sound off, gripe, kvetch
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.



Pronunciation: /kəmˈplānər/
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.


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

  • plaintive from Late Middle English:

    Plaintive comes via Old French plainte ‘lamentation’, from Latin plangere ‘to beat, lament’. The legal plaintiff (Late Middle English) is the same word used as a noun. Plangere also gives us Late Middle English complain (the com- being emphatic), and plangent (early 19th century).

Words that rhyme with complain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·plain

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