pain·ful | \ ˈpān-fəl \
painfuller\ˈpān-fə-lər \; painfullest

Definition of painful 

1a : feeling or giving pain a painful injury

b : irksome, annoying

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 \ adverb
painfulness \ˈpān-fəl-nəs \ noun

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

The defense bill - which sets out policy priorities for the Pentagon on a wide sweep of issues - could be painful for Trump to veto. Erica Werner And Josh Dawsey,, "Senate, House GOP at odds over rare rebuke of Trump on national security," 5 July 2018 Jackson Ramey, the Noblesville High School senior who started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Seaman and Whistler's medical bills, said the messages brought togetherness during what has been a painful time. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Boy accused in Noblesville school shooting appears in court," 29 May 2018 There were no hints in previous episodes that Nick might be dying any time soon—which only made this week even more painful. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Fear the Walking Dead: What’s Next After This Devastating Death?," 29 Apr. 2018 Even better, taking a warm shower (or bath!) opens up your pores, making the actual process less painful. Sam Escobar, Good Housekeeping, "12 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Bikini Wax," 6 July 2018 To stamp out data manipulation, the authors suggest that China could make penalties for data falsification more painful. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "In China, coal rules cut sulfur emissions, but data manipulation is a concern," 25 June 2018 Moving around too much can be very painful, making her joints stiff and difficult to bend. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Kenyan JCPS student won't let health issues stop her from graduating," 31 May 2018 That must have been so painful, so terrifying — to watch so many people in the area get sick. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Four: The Gospel of Bundy," 18 May 2018 Those high stakes and that painful ambivalence are the fuel that powers the play by Marco Ramirez that opened Friday at the Cleveland Play House. Andrea Simakis,, "'The Royale,' inspired by boxer Jack Johnson, brings fight for freedom to stage (preview)," 13 May 2018

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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Phrases Related to painful

painful to the touch

Statistics for painful

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for painful

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

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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 \
painfuller\-fə-lər \; painfullest

Medical Definition of painful 

: feeling or giving pain

Other words from painful

painfully \-f(ə-)lē \ adverb

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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).


to make amends

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