pain·​ful | \ ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio) \
painfuller\ ˈpān-​fə-​lər How to pronounce painful (audio) \; painfullest

Definition of painful

1a : feeling or giving pain a painful injury
2 : requiring effort or exertion a long painful trip
3 archaic : careful, diligent

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Other Words from painful

painfully \ ˈpān-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce painful (audio) \ adverb
painfulness \ ˈpān-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce painful (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for painful



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Examples of painful in a Sentence

I got a painful sunburn. We can't ignore our country's painful history of slavery. His questions brought up a lot of painful memories. It was painful to watch.
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Recent Examples on the Web Despite plenty of adversity, Cardinals stick it to Browns to stay unbeaten at 6-0 Moore: Vance Joseph is ready for a head coaching job after thumping Browns Moore: Phoenix Mercury's loss was painful for everyone. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 18 Oct. 2021 If the cyst isn't painful, the infection risk from the needle puncture outweighs the benefit of draining the cyst otherwise. Rebekah Kuschmider,, 14 Oct. 2021 Ultherapy has no downtime but can be painful for up to a week. Jessica Iredale, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Oct. 2021 For Marty McNair, father to Jordan McNair, who died after suffering a heat stroke at a University of Maryland football workout in May 2018, the news was painful, yet familiar. Glenn Graham,, 12 Oct. 2021 But the big story is this game showed the labrum may be painful, but Mayfield’s game looked healthy. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 11 Oct. 2021 If your wardrobe is due for a fall refresh, consider stepping up your shoe game with autumn-friendly styles to make the transition a little less painful. Andrea Navarro, Glamour, 3 Sep. 2021 Life — so beautiful, painful and dazzling — does not get better than that. New York Times, 6 Oct. 2021 The government has drastically scaled back investments in manufacturing, hamstrung the postal service and engaged in petty trade wars that have made the pandemic era especially painful for consumers. Allison Morrow, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for painful

Time Traveler

The first known use of painful was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near painful



painful to the touch

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Statistics for painful

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for painful



English Language Learners Definition of painful

: causing pain to your body
: causing emotional pain


pain·​ful | \ ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio) \
painfuller\ -​fə-​lər How to pronounce painful (audio) \; painfullest

Medical Definition of painful

: feeling or giving pain

Other Words from painful

painfully \ -​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce painful (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on painful

Nglish: Translation of painful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of painful for Arabic Speakers


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