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 Doing it in phases Tariffs and other trade issues have received most of the attention during the trade war, but the more fundamental – and difficult – challenges are with lax intellectual property protection and China’s industrial policy. Penelope B. Prime, The Conversation, "US-China trade pact President Trump just signed fails to resolve 3 fundamental issues," 16 Jan. 2020 The second question, which is a little more difficult, will separate the fans from the superfans. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "'Friends' Trivia Coasters Are Here to Add a Little Competition to Your Social Gatherings," 16 Jan. 2020 The report sheds additional light on how difficult the construction could be for the region. oregonlive, "Rose Quarter project would likely exceed $1 billion if freeway caps are expanded, reinforced," 15 Jan. 2020 Our thoughts are with Martina and her family during this difficult time. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Martina McBride's Mother Has Died After Undergoing Emergency Surgery," 13 Jan. 2020 The real-life implications of difficult visa processes for Africans range from being unable to visit family members abroad to scuttling higher education plans. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria has dropped the most in the ranking of powerful passports over the last decade," 13 Jan. 2020 What Zuckerberg didn't spell out at the time is just how difficult that transition would be to pull off, and not just in terms of political hurdles from encryption-averse law enforcement or a shift in Facebook's business model. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "Facebook Says Encrypting Messenger by Default Will Take Years," 10 Jan. 2020 That small advantage is difficult to detect, and the Volvo doesn't feel quicker when pulling away from a stoplight. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, "2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered Is as Quirky as It Is Handsome," 9 Jan. 2020 Offer nuanced discussions about difficult topics to gain their respect. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "10 Ways To Be The Kind Of Parent Your Kid Looks Up To," 7 Jan. 2020

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

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Difficult.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/difficult. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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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