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The definitions of the three words came under discussion, with no real outcome. M/W dictionary was interrogated: I thought the answers were not helpful because each word is taken singularly and not in context with each other.

The discussion came about because of a food "Comments Book" in my area. Several people made "Comments" about a particular meal which were obviously "Critical Complaints" (not an oxymoron I hope). As a result the chef involved wrote that he was insulted, mainly because the word 'chainsaw' was mentioned about tenderness or otherwise of the meat in question. To obtain clarity on the subject words is the reason for my request. I do not want to appear to be the village idiot when I next broach situation.

Many thanks to those who put my question on hold and many more to those who felt that it was worthwhile and got in before the boom was lowered. I particularly thank you, imu96, for your answer. It suits my purpose admirably. I will now be able to express my argument with much more power. Brian.

closed as off-topic by Drew, NVZ, Lawrence, Andrew Leach Apr 2 '16 at 11:15

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  • Have you looked at the dictionary definitions? – Inazuma Apr 2 '16 at 4:21
  • The original question was: The definitions of the three words came under discussion, with no real outcome. (After the edit) If you had added the context, the reason for your question would have been clearer. If you had looked up the individual definitions beforehand, why didn't you say so? – Mari-Lou A Apr 4 '16 at 6:05
  • And a Good Day to you Mari-Lou A. Thank you for your 'criticism'. I am so green about this site. At my very first attempt I get groused on by 4 guys and put 'on hold'. To top it off, I am sternly criticized by your dear self. – Brian Barusta Apr 4 '16 at 23:26
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Merriam-Webster defines a comment to be a statement that "expresses an opinion". I think if someone talks about a way of doing something and ends it with asking for complaints, comments and criticisms, then someone who gives a comment might say that they like what has been said. This wouldn't be a complaint or a criticism because those two things tend to be negative. So you can generally think of comments as "nice" responses, at the very least.

A complaint is "a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable". This could be a statement that you don't like something or think that something is stupid, without any justification why.

A criticism is "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes". I think the key difference between this and a complaint is that it gives feedback as to what is wrong with what has been suggested by the speaker.

As an aside, my Accounting teacher in high school used to always end a lesson by saying "Does any one have any questions, complaints, comments, and criticisms", to which everyone would just respond with silence. I think he just used it to say it just to because it sounded cool because of consonance, and signalled that he had finished speaking. So, even if you disagree with my differences between the three, you can just think of it as a cool (but somewhat redundant) way of ending whatever you are saying.

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If you determine the field of your usage, I can specifically answer your question because a word may have a lot of meanings in various field.

For example, complaint in the medical field has a specific meaning that may differ from general usage.

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