difficult

adjective

dif·​fi·​cult ˈdi-fi-(ˌ)kəlt How to pronounce difficult (audio)
1
: hard to do, make, or carry out : arduous
a difficult climb
2
a
: hard to deal with, manage, or overcome
a difficult child
having a difficult time coping with her death
b
: hard to understand : puzzling
difficult reading
found calculus too difficult
difficultly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for difficult

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 difficult in a Sentence

We were asked lots of difficult questions. I had to make a very difficult decision. We'll be hiking over difficult terrain. It's more difficult than it sounds. I found myself in a difficult position. Some difficult days lie ahead of us. These changes will make life difficult for everyone involved.
Recent Examples on the Web Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat. Ciara McCarthy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 20 May 2024 The officials had been missing for over 12 hours and search operations were hindered by fog, blizzards and difficult terrain through the night. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 20 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for difficult 

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, probably back-formation from difficulte difficulty

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of difficult was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near difficult

Cite this Entry

“Difficult.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/difficult. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

difficult

adjective
dif·​fi·​cult ˈdif-i-(ˌ)kəlt How to pronounce difficult (audio)
1
: hard to do, make, or carry out
a difficult climb
2
a
: hard to deal with, manage, or overcome
a difficult child
b
: hard to understand : puzzling
difficult reading
difficultly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on difficult

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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