painful

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from painful

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for painful

Synonyms

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The leaders of these efforts describe a slow and painful culture change process. Michael L. Millenson, The Conversation, "Medical errors still harm too many people but there are glimpses of real change," 26 Nov. 2019 Sometimes, those changes have been painful for our 151-year-old operation. courier-journal.com, "Why is The Courier Journal reporting on a deadly Mexican drug cartel? Because it's here," 25 Nov. 2019 The cold weather is tough on our lips and face, and is very painful to deal with throughout the season. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "20 things you didn't know you needed for winter on Amazon," 19 Nov. 2019 Insertion can vary from feeling like an uncomfortable pinch to being very painful, but removal is generally a breeze. Korin Miller, SELF, "13 Things You Absolutely Should Know Before Getting the Paragard Copper IUD," 8 Nov. 2019 And the steps that lead up to that part of the story are really painful and very isolating and full of self-doubt. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Anne Hathaway Redefines Maternity Style in White Oscar de la Renta Look," 11 Oct. 2019 The brittle bone aspect of the disease can be quite pronounced and painful. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio girl stars in new Netflix series, ‘Raising Dion’," 3 Oct. 2019 Ben Magec intends to make the process as slow and as painful as possible. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Stalled in Hawaii, giant telescope faces roadblocks at its backup site in the Canary Islands," 3 Sep. 2019 But if those formats connote superficial engagement with interiority, Leeson’s videos are raw, poignant, and painful. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Pioneering Feminist Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson Gets Timely and Overdue Attention in a New Show," 15 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of painful

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about painful

Time Traveler for painful

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for painful

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/painful. Accessed 5 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for painful

painful

adjective
How to pronounce painful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of painful

: causing pain to your body
: causing emotional pain

painful

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

Medical Definition of painful

: feeling or giving pain

Other Words from painful

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on painful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for painful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with painful

Spanish Central: Translation of painful

Nglish: Translation of painful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of painful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on painful

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to accept, comply, or submit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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