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 But perhaps the most compelling aspect of the story is the many women who boldly shared their own experiences—some positive, others painful and frustrating—attempting to navigate the many, many slippery runs that lead to that elusive corner office. Fortune, "This is the big factor holding women back from CEO jobs," 7 Feb. 2020 For both Kaepernick and Harbaugh, the downfall was gradual, painful and filled with bitter remorse. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "History of the 49ers," 30 Jan. 2020 And Beard acknowledged that grad transfer forward TJ Holyfield is playing through a painful and nagging shoulder injury. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Chris Beard says Texas Tech has ‘earned the right’ to play Kentucky in a compelling Big 12/SEC matchup," 24 Jan. 2020 Most Black women who experience these painful and humiliating encounters with police survive. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Naming the Threat," 2 Jan. 2020 But my first turns would be painful and frustrating without strengthening my legs at the gym before that first day on the slopes. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, "Workout Shorts that Make Leg Day More Bearable," 26 Dec. 2019 But, if that gun doesn’t smoke, there will be a long and painful search for what makes the original experiment different from the rest. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "New boson appears in nuclear decay, breaks standard model," 20 Dec. 2019 But those broad trends overlook a very painful period in between, namely 2018. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "What the booming stock market means for bitcoin," 9 Jan. 2020 Next year is going to be painful too because acquisitions and divestitures — a way out — are down significantly, said Kraig Grahmann, head of the firm’s energy finance team. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "What to watch in 2020: Has the magic run out in the Permian Basin?," 2 Jan. 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

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 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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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

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