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

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 While the summit itself is a reasonable beginning to what may turn out to be a diplomatic solution to this knotty international problem, to immediately fulfill that promise would be a grave error. James Stavridis, Time, "I Was a Navy Admiral. Here's Why Ending 'War Games' With South Korea Would Be a Grave Mistake," 12 June 2018 Expect more knotty conflicts over digital data privacy, not just among Supreme Court justices, but with lawmakers, regulators and law enforcers across the country. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—How Reasonable Are Your Expectations of Privacy in the Internet Age?," 25 June 2018 Drink alcohol?—raises a number of potentially knotty questions of privacy and consent. Rod Mccullom, The Atlantic, "Drug Use Is Detectable on Your Fingerprints," 13 Apr. 2018 The Celestial opened in 1963 and has long been known for its view, which takes in Downtown, the Ohio River and Kentucky, the plate glass windows contrasting with a knotty-pine atmosphere inside. Polly Campbell,, "Celestial closing, to become event center," 9 July 2018 The chef's kitchen features granite slab counters, knotty alder cabinets and Wolf, SubZero and Asko appliances. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Hollywood money manager buys $3.8 million Paradise Valley mansion," 25 June 2018 Once knotty ropes of sinew unwind and melt into succulent gelatin, the Liholiho team can peel away the tough outer membrane. Ali Bouzari,, "Housemade: The magic of Liholiho Yacht Club," 22 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

26 Sep 2018

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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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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).


playful or foolish behavior

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