Meaning of “complain” in the English Dictionary

"complain" in British English

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complainverb [ I ]

uk /kəmˈpleɪn/ us /kəmˈpleɪn/

B1 to say that something is wrong or not satisfactory:

Lots of people have complained about the noise.
You're always complaining!
[ + that ] He complained that his boss was useless and he had too much work.

B1 to tell someone formally that something is wrong:

If the service was so bad why didn't you complain to the manager?

More examples

  • Over three hundred listeners phoned in to complain about the programme.
  • Teachers complain that more of their time is taken up with administration than with teaching.
  • They were afraid to complain about the noise in case they annoyed the neighbours.
  • She was complaining about all the sex and violence on television.
  • After her fall she complained that she couldn't bend her leg properly.
adverb uk /kəmˈpleɪ.nɪŋ.li/ us /kəmˈpleɪ.nɪŋ.li/

"You always walk too fast for me," she said complainingly.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “complain” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"complain" in American English

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complainverb [ I ]

us /kəmˈpleɪn/

to say that something is wrong or not good enough:

Bill and Nancy are always complaining about their neighbor, whose dog frightens their kids.
[ + that clause ] She complained that she had too much work to do.

If you complain of a physical condition, you describe something that hurts or makes you feel ill:

She complained of aching knees from her arthritis.

(Definition of “complain” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"complain" in Business English

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complainverb [ I ]

uk /kəmˈpleɪn/ us

to tell someone that something is wrong or not satisfactory, and that you are annoyed about it:

complain about sth Workers complain about the conditions in which they are forced to work.
complain that The chief executive complained that there were no systems of accountability, financial control, or planning.

(Definition of “complain” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)