dif·​fi·​cult | \ ˈdi-fi-(ˌ)kəlt How to pronounce difficult (audio) \

Definition of difficult

1 : hard to do, make, or carry out : arduous a difficult climb
2a : 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

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Other Words from 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Terminating later term pregnancies can be more emotionally difficult, more expensive and more physically demanding for women, Bridges says. Tara Law, Time, "Joe Biden Dropped His Support for the Hyde Amendment. Here's How It Became a Flashpoint on Abortion," 7 June 2019 But that may soon become more difficult, as the Russian authorities attempt to block the main tools used to maintain online privacy and free expression: virtual private networks, or VPNs. David Meyer, Fortune, "Russia's Latest Internet Crackdown Targets Tools for Avoiding Online Censorship," 7 June 2019 Answering a plea for sympathy could create a difficult situation. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for June 7, 2019: Scorpio, watch for strings; Pisces, avoid this time-waster," 7 June 2019 The board also was concerned Oxy would have to sell off a lot of Anadarko for parts in a difficult market environment in order to finance the deal. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Oxy's pursuit of Anadarko - two years in the making," 7 June 2019 These partnerships can be difficult to manage, as Renault’s recent experience with Nissan shows. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "The Car Industry Is Under Siege," 6 June 2019 That would be difficult, if not impossible, if Societe continued to distribute its own beers to restaurants and bars. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Beervana on the Central Coast: the 2019 Firestone Walker Invitational Fest," 6 June 2019 This toxic brew is all the more dangerous for a more vulnerable (and difficult to measure) group of users: kids. Paris Martineau, WIRED, "YouTube Has Kid Troubles Because Kids Are a Core Audience," 6 June 2019 Federal agencies have fined scammers hundreds of millions of dollars, but it's been difficult to collect, as many of the callers are overseas. CBS News, "FCC paves the way for widespread blocking of robocalls," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'difficult.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of difficult

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for difficult

Middle English, probably back-formation from difficulte difficulty

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Statistics for difficult

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for difficult

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

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More Definitions for difficult



English Language Learners Definition of difficult

: not easy : requiring much work or skill to do or make
: not easy to deal with or manage
: not willing to help others by changing your behavior : stubborn or unreasonable


dif·​fi·​cult | \ ˈdi-fi-ˌkəlt How to pronounce difficult (audio) \

Kids Definition of difficult

1 : not easy : hard to do or make a difficult job
2 : hard to deal with difficult circumstances a difficult child
3 : hard to understand a difficult subject

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Comments on difficult

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