Is there any difference between lodge a complaint and file a complaint?

I found two relevant senses for these words in the Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary:

lodge: to make formal statement about something to a public organisation or authority


file: to present something so that it can be officially recorded and dealt with

So, when can I used lodge, and when can I use file? Are they really interchangeable?

  • 1
    Based on the rules of the site, we can't give you any answers until you edit your question to include the relevant dictionary definitions of these two words. Please only quote the specific senses you feel are relevant to the act of complaining, and tell us which dictionary you're using. (In other words: show us that you tried to figure this out for yourself, before asking strangers for help.) – Dan Bron Jun 27 '15 at 11:57
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/133313/… – user66974 Jun 27 '15 at 12:08
  • Awesome! So glad you came back and added the definitions of the words to your question! I'll add a little formatting markup to for legibility purposes. Now, after having read those definitions, do you see the difference between the words? What else would you like to know about them? – Dan Bron Jun 27 '15 at 12:39

In reference to "complaint", they are virtually identical in meaning. Usage preference is a matter of chronology and which-side-of-the-pond:

  • "File a complaint" is more common in American English since about 1950; before that, "lodge a complaint was more common.

Google NGram American English corpus enter image description here

  • "Lodge a complaint" has been more common in British English, but "file" has been gaining usage rapidly (in written works) since about the 1970s, and overtook "lodge" in about 2000, but lately they seem to be running neck-and-neck.

Google Ngram British English corpus
enter image description here

I can't speak for Canadians, Australians, etc.

  • Thanks, Mari-Lou, for embedding the ngram charts—how do you do that? On my iPhone I only know how to cut and paste the URL. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 29 '15 at 4:28
  • @Mari-LouA I also wonder how you did that, I haven't seen a way on my Mac (other than making a screenshot). – Barmar Jun 29 '15 at 15:43
  • meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/1171/… tricks of the trade here. – Mari-Lou A Jun 29 '15 at 15:49

You can use them when you've gotten enough real-life exposure to English within meaningful contexts so that using them becomes natural and you won't have to rely on charts and graphs and the question of which one is allegedly more common, few of which you'll remember when it comes time to produce a natural sentence in an actual communicative setting.

protected by Community Dec 17 '17 at 15:47

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.