knot·​ty | \ ˈnä-tē How to pronounce knotty (audio) \
knottier; knottiest

Definition of knotty

: marked by or full of knots especially : so full of difficulties and complications as to be likely to defy solution a knotty problem

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Other Words from knotty

knottiness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for knotty

complex, complicated, intricate, involved, knotty mean having confusingly interrelated parts. complex suggests the unavoidable result of a necessary combining and does not imply a fault or failure. a complex recipe complicated applies to what offers great difficulty in understanding, solving, or explaining. complicated legal procedures intricate suggests such interlacing of parts as to make it nearly impossible to follow or grasp them separately. an intricate web of deceit involved implies extreme complication and often disorder. a rambling, involved explanation knotty suggests complication and entanglement that make solution or understanding improbable. knotty ethical questions

Examples of knotty in a Sentence

the knotty problems that arise when every nation is part of the global marketplace the candidates cautiously gave their views on an array of knotty issues
Recent Examples on the Web The bar is the heart of the otherwise simple dining room, whose walls of white paint or red brick and knotty wood floors keep eyes focused on the food and drink. Washington Post, 20 Aug. 2021 His observation was a direct attack on the parochial approaches philosophers take and then entangle themselves in their own knotty problems. Norman B. Gildin,, 11 June 2021 Their show explored the Sunni-Shia divide, the ruthless beginnings of the banana industry, the invention of race — the kinds of compelling but knotty stories that have fueled a booming market for podcasting among younger listeners. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 Defining and managing protections for both is inherently knotty. Charles Aunger, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Her melodies are always a little knotty, the production has two or three more layers than some might find advisable. Mark Richardson, WSJ, 10 May 2021 By that time, Laplace and Comoy had already discovered what a knotty mess the local building process could be. WSJ, 24 Apr. 2021 During the show’s four-year absence, Ansari was embroiled in a knotty #MeToo accusation, which then in itself became controversial. Kate Aurthur,, 21 Apr. 2021 The long and knotty history of Los Angeles isn’t just water speculation, oil scams, and Hollywood. Adam Rogers, Wired, 18 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'knotty.' 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 knotty

13th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for knotty

Time Traveler

The first known use of knotty was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near knotty

knotting bill


knotty brake

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Statistics for knotty

Last Updated

31 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Knotty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for knotty



English Language Learners Definition of knotty

: having many dark round marks showing where branches grew : having many knots
: difficult or complicated


knot·​ty | \ ˈnä-tē How to pronounce knotty (audio) \
knottier; knottiest

Kids Definition of knotty

1 : full of lumps, knobs, tangles, or hard spots knotty muscles knotty wood
2 : difficult sense 3 a knotty problem

More from Merriam-Webster on knotty

Nglish: Translation of knotty for Spanish Speakers


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