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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The results can be painful or difficult, but at least the choices were made on her own terms. Natalie Morin,, "Are You Ready To Meet The Real Rebecca Black?," 26 Apr. 2021 But for particularly disfiguring or painful scars that limit people’s mobility, the procedure might be an attractive option. Megan Molteni, STAT, "In mouse experiments, scientists unlock the key to scar-free skin healing," 24 Apr. 2021 But when the heaven-cursing rants finally subside, the play gives its audience a beautiful and painful reconciliation scene with his daughter Cordelia. Anthony D. Baker, The Conversation, "Shakespeare’s musings on religion are like curious whispers – they require deep listening to be heard," 22 Apr. 2021 Popular French techniques employ a strong, and sometimes painful, palpating rolling technique over the skin and tissue. Monica Mendal, Forbes, "How Anna Zahn Of Ricari Studios Is Revolutionizing The Self-Care Industry," 21 Apr. 2021 Chaplains still sit with innumerable dying patients to aid them and be there for families in decisive and painful moments. Robert Klitzman, CNN, "The 'Amazing Grace' of chaplains in the pandemic," 19 Apr. 2021 This tiny romance, though weird and painful, made social isolation feel more like normal life for a moment. Taylor Mcknight, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Affairs: He wanted me to be his COVID sidepiece," 16 Apr. 2021 The new adaptation eventually came to fruition under the direction of Hiroki, who is known for his intense and painful romance films, and was written by Nami Kikkawa. NBC News, "Stars of Netflix's lesbian thriller 'Ride or Die' on their on- and off-screen connection," 16 Apr. 2021 Bid adieu to stiff and painful sandals, blisters, and sore feet, and welcome to the world of ultimate laidback luxury. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Shop the Most Comfortable Sandal Trend, Maybe Ever," 15 Apr. 2021

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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 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

Comments on painful

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