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

Keep scrolling for more

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 knotty work of trying to best Trump methodically through a legal process feels, for some, inherently restorative. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Impeachment Trial Isn’t a Legal Process. It’s a Proxy War.," 29 Jan. 2020 The proposal had stalled for months among concerns that forming the commission would add yet another entity to the city’s knotty ecosystem of agencies tasked with addressing housing policy. Joshua Fechter,, "San Antonio renters could get more prominent voice if new commission gets established," 15 Jan. 2020 The point of the board is to take knotty decisions like these out of Facebook’s hands. Steven Levy, Wired, "Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Oversight Board May Kill His Political Ad Policy," 28 Jan. 2020 Peart has his critics, and their complaints are easy to spot amid the dizzying, knotty discussions that fill certain corners of the Web: His technique is showy, indulgent, too cleanly precise for rock 'n' roll. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Neil Peart of Rush has died at 67: A tribute to rock's greatest drummer," 10 Jan. 2020 In the moment, tidy narratives often made conflicts seem straightforward, but history has unraveled their knotty strands. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "World War III Is an Irresistible Meme," 5 Jan. 2020 As with many other arrangements, the content industry took up with Facebook on the promise of a simpler life—the knotty grot-work of reach and revenue would be handed over to our betters. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, "The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job," 31 Dec. 2019 The hammer face on the opposite side is perfect for driving splitting wedges, which can be necessary with some knotty pieces. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "The Best Ways to Keep Your Wood Stove Stoked," 22 Dec. 2019 With less than three months before the voting begins, Ms. Warren has, in some ways, already completed the knottiest leg of her would-be path to the Democratic presidential nomination. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "Elizabeth Warren Has Done the Hard Part. Now Comes the Harder Part.," 23 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of knotty

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about knotty

Time Traveler for knotty

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for knotty

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Knotty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for knotty


How to pronounce knotty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of knotty

of wood : 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on knotty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for knotty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with knotty

Spanish Central: Translation of knotty

Nglish: Translation of knotty for Spanish Speakers

Comments on knotty

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!