knot·​ty | \ ˈnä-tē \
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

Yet, many areas have been settled, leaving two very knotty issues needing to be resolved. Stephen Fidler, WSJ, "The Sticking Points to a Brexit Deal," 16 Oct. 2018 Regulators will need to figure out how to handle this technology, and ethicists will need to grapple knotty questions about its fairness. Brad Plumer, Vox, "A simple guide to CRISPR, one of the biggest science stories of the decade," 23 July 2018 The plotting is knotty, but the pleasures to be had from the international settings and stylish art direction are more than worth the work. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Escape at Dannemora and The Little Drummer Girl Put the Prestige in Prestige TV," 16 Nov. 2018 Think spotted cowhide chairs in the lounge, fur throws at the edge of knotty wooden king-sized beds, and yurts decked out with antler chandeliers and leather couches. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Resorts in the U.S.: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Inside, spacious cabinets—available in knotty hickory wood as an upgrade—hold clothes or gear, and the bed area sleeps two comfortably. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Custom teardrop trailer uses a rooftop tent to camp a family," 3 Oct. 2018 There’s promise in the fact that the show is built atop a fundamentally emotionally knotty foundation. Karen Han, Vox, "Josh Groban and Tony Danza’s appealing odd-couple dynamic can’t quite save The Good Cop," 21 Sep. 2018 Kit Carson Lodge: Rustic cabins with knotty-pine interiors are located at 7,300 feet near Silver Lake along Highway 88. Tom Stienstra,, "Tom Stienstra: California’s 25 best cabins on golden ponds," 20 June 2018 These are big, knotty, real problems, but the scooters didn’t cause them, and their disappearance won’t mitigate, let alone solve them. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Save the Scooters, Redesign the Streets, and Save San Francisco," 4 June 2018

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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Statistics for knotty

Last Updated

3 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for knotty

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

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More Definitions for knotty



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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on knotty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with knotty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for knotty

Spanish Central: Translation of knotty

Nglish: Translation of knotty for Spanish Speakers

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