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

Other Words from painful

painfully \ ˈpān-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce painful (audio) \ adverb
painfulness \ ˈpān-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce painful (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.
Recent Examples on the Web The clearest sign of illness is rash or lesions, which Sidelinger said can be extremely painful. oregonlive, 20 July 2022 Known as a bear market, the losses have been financially painful. Mark Zandi For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 20 July 2022 LIV Golf's upcoming presence is particularly painful for some residents of northern New Jersey. Cindy Boren,, 18 July 2022 How a collection from one of history’s worst atrocities against American Indians ended up in Barre is almost as painful as the memory of the massacre. Dana Hedgpeth, Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2022 And now this failure, which is all the more painful for having been so close to success. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 16 July 2022 Andy’s case, and others who have come forward to describe their monkeypox symptoms on social media, demonstrate that the infection can be incredibly painful. Joseph Osmundson, STAT, 15 July 2022 Inflation is particularly painful for low-wage to middle-income workers. Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant, 15 July 2022 So the shock therapy of that earlier era might be unnecessarily painful. Joel Mathis, The Week, 12 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of painful

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

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Time Traveler for painful

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

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Dictionary Entries Near painful



painful to the touch

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Last Updated

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for painful


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

Medical Definition of painful

: feeling or giving pain

Other Words from painful

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

More from Merriam-Webster on painful

Nglish: Translation of painful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of painful for Arabic Speakers


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