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 If Chauvin is acquitted, Brandt said, the other three officers can still be tried on the aiding and abetting counts, but the case would become more difficult. Amy Forliti, ajc, "Officer with knee to George Floyd's neck to be tried alone," 12 Jan. 2021 Pushing forward with the winter season safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was always going to be more difficult because the competition, aside from skiing, is held indoors. Nathaniel Weitzer, BostonGlobe.com, "Rise in COVID-19 cases has athletic directors scrambling to find ways to get through winter sports season," 10 Jan. 2021 Critics of unions say the labor organizations make such changes more difficult. Chase Difeliciantonio, SFChronicle.com, "Tech unions in Silicon Valley have been rare. Here’s why that’s changing," 10 Jan. 2021 Though no money will be distributed until next year, proponents say the fund will create an easier avenue for localities to pursue funding to kick-start projects in place of other federal grant programs that can be more difficult to secure. Halle Parker | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "New federal loan program could get more flood risk projects off the ground in Louisiana," 8 Jan. 2021 Moving the ball in the red zone is more difficult than elsewhere. Emmanuel Morgan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Why the Rams red zone offense has been failing," 6 Jan. 2021 As jarring as Trump's words sounded on the recording, some former prosecutors said that building a criminal case would likely be more difficult. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Did Trump break the law? President's call to Georgia's Raffensperger spurs demand for criminal investigation," 4 Jan. 2021 Once the levels of debt and complexity in China’s financial system reach a certain level, problems become more difficult to manage effectively. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Where Is Jack Ma?," 4 Jan. 2021 In addition, cooperation with Republicans could be made more difficult as many in the GOP are continuing to demonstrate fealty to the divisive Trump, backing his unfounded claims that his reelection loss was tainted by fraud. Alan Fram, Anchorage Daily News, "Pelosi narrowly reelected speaker, faces difficult 2021," 3 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for difficult

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for difficult

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Difficult.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/difficult. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for difficult


How to pronounce difficult (audio)

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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