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

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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



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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 Johnson would not relent, and the most painful twist for Slowe was his final act against her, in September 1937. Helen T. Verongos, New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Lucy Diggs Slowe, Scholar Who Persisted Against Racism and Sexism," 1 Oct. 2020 Another benefit could be ranking the severity of ailments, so medical experts can better target the most painful or disruptive problems. Angie Leventis Lourgos,, "Hair loss. Memory problems. Strange rashes. COVID-19 patients report a litany of symptoms outside official criteria, some persisting for months.," 30 Sep. 2020 One of the most painful parts for parents is our inability to protect our children. Jessica Dulong, CNN, "How parental self-care helps kids weather pandemic stress," 28 Sep. 2020 His first catch was the most painful; the Colts faced a 3rd-and-4 on their first series, Pittman caught the ball on a slant and got sandwiched hard by Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson and cornerback Jeff Gladney. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, "Rookie Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. finding ways to make plays despite steep learning curve," 23 Sep. 2020 It is regarded to be one of the most painful disorders known to medicine. Jan Goldsmith, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Someone San Diego Should Know: Dr. John Alksne," 18 Sep. 2020 Revisiting your life’s most painful moment can be agonizing — and not just for you. Donna Britt, Washington Post, "After she was shot by police, her Nana’s admonition stays strong: Don’t let hate turn you away from God," 17 Sep. 2020 That, to me, was the most painful part of it — that nobody would protect our people. Star Tribune, "Seeking justice, leaving a legacy," 15 Sep. 2020 The most painful moment, Scully, 92, said, was watching his golf clubs being loaded. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Catching up with Vin Scully: On America today, Jackie Robinson, MLB in 2020 and daily life in retirement," 30 Aug. 2020

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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Statistics for painful

Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for painful


How to pronounce painful (audio)

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 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

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Comments on painful

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