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[kuh m-pleynt] /kəmˈpleɪnt/
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.
1350-1400; Middle English compleynte < Middle French complainte < Latin com- com- + plancta plaint
Related forms
countercomplaint, noun
3. sickness, illness, ailment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for complaint
  • The high cost of textbooks is a rising student complaint.
  • Whether or not his complaint would ultimately be upheld is a different story.
  • My only complaint is that the upper portion is a bit tight.
  • Not that the study seems perfect, but this is probably not the right complaint.
  • My only complaint is a common one to the online version.
  • Good conduct on your part means being able to file a good civil complaint later.
  • Only complaint is that the shape is narrower than other new balance shoes.
  • My complaint is that too few of the frauds are denounced by fellow scientists.
  • But this is a food blog, not a traffic blog, and herein lies my one complaint.
  • The chance of a complaint resulting in action against a police officer is slim.
British Dictionary definitions for complaint


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
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Word Origin and History for complaint

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for complaint

in law, the plaintiff's initial pleading, corresponding to the libel in admiralty, the bill in equity, and the claim in civil law. The complaint, called in common law a declaration, consists of a title, a statement showing venue or jurisdiction, one or more counts containing a brief formal exposition of facts giving rise to the claim asserted, and a demand for relief. Thus, it informs the defendant of the plaintiff's claim and initiates the pretrial process of narrowing the case to one or more sharply defined issues of law or fact. In common law and under early procedural codes, the task of defining the issues was performed solely by the pleadings, but modern procedural systems have added pretrial conferences and deposition and discovery procedures for this purpose.

Learn more about complaint with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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