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


  1. the act of complaining; an expression of grievance
  2. a cause for complaining; grievance
  3. a mild ailment
  4. English law a statement by which a civil proceeding in a magistrates’ court is commenced

late 14c., “lamentation, grief,” from Old French complainte (12c.) “complaint, lament,” noun use of fem. past participle of complaindre (see complain). Meaning “bodily ailment” is from 1705 (often in U.S. colloquial use generalized as complaints).

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