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From Old French grievance, from the verb grever (to irritate; to bother; to annoy) + -ance.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɡɹiː.vəns/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːvəns


grievance (countable and uncountable, plural grievances)

  1. (countable) Something which causes grief.
  2. (countable) A wrong or hardship suffered, which is the grounds of a complaint.
    • November 2 2014, Daniel Taylor, "Sergio Agüero strike wins derby for Manchester City against 10-man United,"
      Wayne Rooney spent much of the game remonstrating with Oliver about his own grievances and, in the interest of balance, there were certainly occasions when United had legitimate complaints.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      Throughout the 1500s, the populace roiled over a constellation of grievances of which the forest emerged as a key focal point. The popular late Middle Ages fictional character Robin Hood, dressed in green to symbolize the forest, dodged fines for forest offenses and stole from the rich to give to the poor. But his appeal was painfully real and embodied the struggle over wood.
  3. (uncountable) Feelings of being wronged; outrage.
    • 2005, John Gennard & Graham Judge, Employee Relations, →ISBN, page 303:
      The issues of harassment and/or bullying was the top common source of grievance, followed by discipline, and then new working practices.
    • 2007, Aderoju Oyefusi, Oil and the Propensity to Armed Struggle in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria:
      Given the non-significance of grievance in the estimated results, I proceeded to check whether the data provide a systematic and rational explanation of personal grievance among the population.
    • 2008, Andrew Anthony, The Fallout: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence, →ISBN, page 21:
      The left half of the equation draws on grievance while the liberal half is sustained by guilt, and as such they enjoy a symbiotic relationship: the more grievance the left can generate, the more guilt the liberal will feel, and the more guilt the liberal feels, the more grievance the left are able to generate.
    • 2010, John Braithwaite, Valerie Braithwaite, & Michael Cookson, Anomie and Violence, →ISBN:
      Warfare is a condition in which there is more greed and more grievance, more deterrence and more defiance.
  4. (countable) A complaint or annoyance.
  5. (countable) A formal complaint, especially in the context of a unionized workplace.
    If you want the problem fixed, you'll have to file a grievance with the city.
  6. (uncountable) Violation of regulations or objectionable behavior.
    • 1652, Sir Robert Cotton & Sir John Hayward, The Histories of the Lives and Raignes of Henry the III. and Henry the IIII Kings of England, page 188:
      Indeed I do confess, that many times I have showed myself both less provident and less paiful for the benefit of the commonwealth, tha I should, or might, or intended to do hereafter; and have in many actions more respected the satisfying of my own particular humour, than either justice to some private persons, or the common good of all ; yet I did not at any time either omit duty or commit grievance, upon natural dulness or set malice; but partly by abuse of corrupt counsellors, partly by error of my youthful judgement.
    • 1970, Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte, Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward I. A.D. 1272-[1307]:
      The like, 'de mot en wot,' to the barons, bailiffs, men and entire community of the port of Sanwich and its members with 'conclusion' ordering them, on their faith an loyalty, to cause the truce to be firmly observed in all its points, and forbidding them and each of them, under pain of forfeiture of life and limb and of all that they can forfeit, to commit grievance, damage, wrong or molestation by land or by sea, openly or secretly, upon any merchant or other of whatsoever estate or condition he may be of the realm of France or of the other lands of the king of France.
    • 1999, South Western Reporter (Second Series), page 71:
      Interim work rules, that served as bridge between expired and future contract between city and firefighters' association, did not commit grievance regarding firefighters' entitlement to step wage increases to arbitration.

Derived terms[edit]



Old French[edit]


grievance f (oblique plural grievances, nominative singular grievance, nominative plural grievances)

  1. Alternative form of grevance