difficult

adjective
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

The women shared advice for building new relationships with their children and supported each other during difficult times. Beth Dreher, Woman's Day, "Meet the Woman Who Stands In at LGBTQ Weddings," 4 May 2019 My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles Send Their Sympathies Following the Notre-Dame Fire," 16 Apr. 2019 Adams proved especially brilliant during difficult times for Hyland, involving chronic illness and a second kidney transplant. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Wells Adams Lost All Chill Over Sarah Hyland at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party," 26 Feb. 2019 Oddly enough, though, there are times when the program that translates between satellite and map view has a difficult time making the translation. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "6 Reasons You Should Always Have a Paper Map," 19 Nov. 2018 OpenAI's goal is to build an artificial intelligence that could make judgement calls based on incomplete data and could cooperate with a stranger, the kinds of things humans do all day but which are terribly difficult to teach to a machine. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "An AI Beat the Top Humans at a Modern Video Game Thanks to the Power of Teamwork," 16 Apr. 2019 From a cheesy throwback to a classic pic from your most recent family vacay, choosing the perfect photo to post shouldn't be that difficult. Maddie Hiatt, House Beautiful, "24 Mother's Day Instagram Captions She'll Love," 12 Apr. 2019 For all of those reasons, disaster relief, especially in the immediate aftermath of disasters like Cyclone Idai and the floods in the Midwest, can be difficult to do effectively. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 25 Mar. 2019 The task has been made more difficult as Stoneman Douglas students are on spring break. Terry Spencer, The Seattle Times, "Linked by pain: 2 school massacre survivors, dad kill selves," 26 Mar. 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

13 May 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

difficult

adjective

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

difficult

adjective
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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