painful

adjective

pain·​ful ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio)
painfuller ˈpān-fə-lər How to pronounce painful (audio) ; painfullest
1
a
: feeling or giving pain
a painful injury
2
: requiring effort or exertion
a long painful trip
3
archaic : careful, diligent
painfully adverb
painfulness 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Talking about—and even simply being around—death is thought to be a painful experience. Julie McFadden, TIME, 10 June 2024 Advertisement That’s why a recent poll done for The Times by NORC at the University of Chicago and paid for by the California Endowment brought me some hope about this country’s long, painful journey toward accepting LGBTQ+ people — and was also a gut check on how much work there still is to do. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 9 June 2024 Love & Hip Hop Atlanta's Sierra Gates is opening up about a tattoo experience that caused an extremely painful infection. Charlotte Phillipp, Peoplemag, 8 June 2024 One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid prosecution, said that at the time patients were not given enough painkillers during painful procedures. Bilal Shbair, New York Times, 6 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for painful 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'painful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near painful

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/painful. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

painful

adjective
pain·​ful ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio)
: feeling or giving pain
painfully adverb
painfulness noun

Medical Definition

painful

adjective
pain·​ful ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio)
painfuller -fə-lər How to pronounce painful (audio) ; painfullest
: feeling or giving pain
painfully adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on painful

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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