Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb trou·ble \ˈtrə-bəl\

Simple Definition of trouble

  • : to make (someone) feel worried or upset

  • : to disturb or bother (someone)

  • : to cause (someone) to feel pain

Full Definition of trouble

trou·bledtrou·bling play \ˈtrə-b(ə-)liŋ\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to agitate mentally or spiritually :  worry, disturbb (1) archaic :  mistreat, oppress (2) :  to produce physical disorder in :  afflict <troubled by a cold>c :  to put to exertion or inconvenience <I'm sorry to trouble you>

  3. 2 :  to put into confused motion <the wind troubled the sea>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to become mentally agitated :  worry <refused to trouble over trifles>

  6. 2 :  to make an effort :  be at pains <did not trouble to come>

trou·bler play \-b(ə-)lər\ noun

Examples of trouble

  1. The accusations troubled him deeply.

  2. I'm troubled by his strange behavior.

  3. I don't mean to trouble you, but I have a question.

Origin of trouble

Middle English, from Anglo-French trubler, from Vulgar Latin *turbulare, from *turbulus agitated, alteration of Latin turbulentus — more at turbulent

First Known Use: 13th century

Rhymes with trouble



noun trou·ble

Simple Definition of trouble

  • : problems or difficulties

  • : a situation that is difficult or has a lot of problems

  • : a situation that occurs if you do something wrong or break a rule and which will make someone angry or cause you to be punished

Full Definition of trouble

  1. 1 :  the quality or state of being troubled especially mentally

  2. 2 :  public unrest or disturbance <there's trouble brewing downtown>

  3. 3 :  an instance of trouble <used to disguise her frustrations and despair by making light of her troublesCurrent Biography>

  4. 4 :  a state or condition of distress, annoyance, or difficulty <in trouble with the law> <heading for trouble> <got into financial trouble>: asa :  a condition of physical distress or ill health :  ailment <back trouble> <heart trouble>b :  a condition of mechanical malfunction <engine trouble>c :  a condition of doing something badly or only with great difficulty <has trouble reading> <has trouble breathing>d :  pregnancy out of wedlock <got a girl in trouble>

  5. 5 :  an effort made :  pains <took the trouble to do it right>

  6. 6a :  a cause of distress, annoyance, or inconvenience <don't mean to be any trouble> <what's the trouble?>b :  a negative feature :  drawback <the trouble with you is you're too honest> <the main trouble with electronic systems is the overreliance on them — John Perham>c :  the unhappy or sad fact <the trouble is, I need the money>

Examples of trouble

  1. The new system is giving me trouble.

  2. He was having trouble with his homework.

  3. I had a little trouble finding the place.

  4. He had no trouble finding a new job.

  5. gangs looking to make trouble

  6. When the new CEO arrived, the company was in trouble.

  7. She got into trouble with her credit cards.

  8. He's always getting in trouble at school.

  9. She has been having trouble with her knee.

13th Century

First Known Use of trouble

13th century

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up trouble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez duvet kittly-benders spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.