ar·​du·​ous ˈär-jə-wəs How to pronounce arduous (audio)
: hard to accomplish or achieve : difficult
an arduous task
years of arduous training
: marked by great labor or effort : strenuous
… a life of arduous toil.A. C. Cole
: hard to climb : steep
an arduous path
arduously adverb
arduousness noun

Did you know?

"To forgive is the most arduous pitch human nature can arrive at." When Richard Steele published that line in The Guardian in 1713, he was using arduous in what was apparently a fairly new way for English writers in his day: to imply that something was steep or lofty as well as difficult or strenuous. Steele's use is one of the earliest documented in English for that meaning, but he didn't commit it to paper until almost 150 years after the first uses of the word in its "strenuous" sense. Although the "steep" sense is newer, it is still true to the word's origins; arduous derives from the Latin arduus, which means "high," "steep," or "difficult."

Choose the Right Synonym for arduous

hard, difficult, arduous mean demanding great exertion or effort.

hard implies the opposite of all that is easy.

farming is hard work

difficult implies the presence of obstacles to be surmounted or puzzles to be resolved and suggests the need of skill or courage.

the difficult ascent of the mountain

arduous stresses the need of laborious and persevering exertion.

the arduous task of rebuilding

Examples of arduous in a Sentence

Traveling for several days by train, stagecoach and horseback, they would reach Mariposa Grove, a stand of some 200 ancient giant sequoias, where they would rest before embarking on an arduous descent via 26 switchbacks into the valley. Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian, July 2008
As yoga classes go, this is not an arduous one, but the students don't know that. Richard Corliss, Time, 23 Apr. 2001
Women of middling means had the most to gain from increased consumption, for imported goods often reduced their long and arduous labor, especially in making candles and soap or in spinning and weaving cloth. Alan Taylor, American Colonies, 2000
He went through a long and arduous training program. an arduous journey across miles of desert
Recent Examples on the Web Both spending and the job market have stayed resilient this year, playing key roles in supporting the economy through the Fed’s arduous rate increases. Krystal Hur, CNN, 21 Sep. 2023 By then, lawmakers must advance 12 individual appropriations bills in each chamber before sending their final product to the president’s desk for approval, setting the stage for an arduous process as House Republicans and Senate Democrats disagree on topline spending numbers. Cami Mondeaux, Washington Examiner, 19 Sep. 2023 Greener cataloged his harrowing recovery, which included a series of strokes, emergency surgery and an arduous rehabilitation process, in a blog. John Wiegand, New York Times, 17 Sep. 2023 The ash produced was around one cup per log, and cleaning out the ash was just as arduous as with any other firepit. Kat De Naoum, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Sep. 2023 Visit DeSoto Falls, a 100-foot waterfall on the outskirts of town, via an easy, paved path for those not looking for an arduous hike. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 11 Sep. 2023 While the work can be arduous, the pups and their handlers have fun on the job. Sydney Page, Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2023 For the most part, carrying this bag isn’t arduous. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 8 Sep. 2023 Combing the ashes of what used to be homes, businesses and historic landmarks has been arduous. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arduous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin arduus high, steep, difficult; akin to Old Irish ard high

First Known Use

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of arduous was in 1549


Dictionary Entries Near arduous

Cite this Entry

“Arduous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​du·​ous ˈärj-(ə-)wəs How to pronounce arduous (audio)
: extremely difficult : laborious
an arduous climb
arduously adverb
arduousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on arduous

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