dif·​fi·​cult | \ˈdi-fi-(ˌ)kəlt \

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

Even more difficult than dealing with serious substance abuse issues is having to do it all in the public eye. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Amanda Bynes Says Her Drug Use Made Her a 'Completely Different Person'," 27 Nov. 2018 Indeed, deal making among the various health-care providers has proved difficult to consummate in recent years. Dana Cimilluca, WSJ, "Walgreens, Humana Are in Preliminary Talks to Take Stakes in Each Other," 20 Nov. 2018 Even knowing how many animals there are in a population can be difficult. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Whales are stressed out by climate change, and it shows in their earwax," 16 Nov. 2018 But with a powerful state insurance lobby, making greater systemic changes has proven difficult. Susie Cagle, Curbed, "California’s changing fire country," 10 Oct. 2018 However, tracking these products has proved difficult, as even trace amounts of the drug can turn major profits. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "China's fentanyl exports targeted in bipartisan opioid bill," 24 Sep. 2018 This could prove difficult for customers who live in apartment buildings, have children, or are elderly or disabled. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Self-driving delivery startup Nuro releases its voluntary safety report," 13 Sep. 2018 Living apart was difficult, but each fully supported the other’s pursuit of a professional goal. Philly.com, "Philadelphia weddings: Moriah Benjoseph and Ben Nassau," 13 July 2018 To play the first match as if nothing had happened is difficult. SI.com, "Brazil's Ronaldo Concedes He 'Expected' More From Neymar After World Cup Theatrics," 12 July 2018

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

9 Dec 2018

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 \

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

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


to enclose within walls

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