Lodge (a complaint)

Inherent in these early uses of “to lodge” was the sense of something in movement being put or placed at rest, if only temporarily. From this sense was born “lodge” in the everyday meaning of something which had been moving coming to a sudden halt, as in a bite of food suddenly “lodged” in one’s throat (a lump which, with a bit of luck and perhaps a smidgen of Heimlich, will soon be “dislodged”).

A less dramatic sense of “lodge,” beginning in the 17th century, was “to deposit or place something in custody” of a bank, official, guardian, etc. (“I wish … Mrs. Brent could contrive to put up my books in boxes, and lodge them in some safe place,” Jonathan Swift, 1711). It was this “put in a proper place” sense of “lodge” that, in the age of developing bureaucracy in early 18th century Britain, came to mean, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “To deposit in court or with some appointed officer a formal statement of (an information, complaint, objection, etc.). Hence, in popular language, to bring forward, allege (an objection, etc.).” So to “lodge a complaint” is to formally place a grievance with a party or agency with some power to address it; simply posting you beef on Facebook is not “lodging” your complaint.

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