prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) , -bᵊm, -ˌblem \

Definition of problem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution
b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2a : an intricate unsettled question
b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation
c : difficulty in understanding or accepting I have a problem with your saying that



Definition of problem (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : dealing with a problem of conduct or social relationship a problem play
2 : difficult to deal with a problem child

Synonyms & Antonyms for problem

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for problem


mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of problem in a Sentence

Noun Racism and sexism are major social problems. The company is having financial problems. He has chronic health problems. The mechanic fixed the problem with the car. There are a few problems with your argument. We have to find a way to solve this problem. She is bothered by family problems. We didn't have any problems getting here. I have my own problems to deal with. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The problem is that to accomplish this goal, businesses will need to cut costs. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 10 Aug. 2022 The problem, Hansen said, is that the 2020 election denial was a catalyst in the militant movement’s long game to undermine democratic institutions and seize power by force. Hannah Allam, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Aug. 2022 The problem is, those states that have already adopted relatively tough privacy laws are not keen on anything that could water them down. David Meyer, Fortune, 9 Aug. 2022 The problem is that the grants aren't real — and the scammers ask for money or Social Security numbers upfront to start the ball rolling. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 9 Aug. 2022 The problem right now is that through 10 days of training camp, the offense feels like it’s moving backward. Mark Daniels, USA TODAY, 9 Aug. 2022 The problem is that scientists don’t know how much to trust a coronavirus test under these circumstances. Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 9 Aug. 2022 Another problem is that communities lack resources and programs to keep youth off the streets, the panelists said. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Aug. 2022 Typically, in recessions, the problem is that businesses don’t want to hire and consumers don’t want to spend. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In response largely to a non-problem, Democrats want to trample on the prerogatives of states to conduct elections, mandating their electoral priorities throughout the land. Rich Lowry, National Review, 9 Mar. 2021 The staff is trained to address residents who show confused or problem behavior. San Diego Elder Law Center,, 24 Apr. 2018 Many people might be surprised to learn that undocumented immigrants are not typically problem children. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 5 Mar. 2017 Problem officers make things difficult for good ones, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, America’s largest police-labor organization. Gary Fields, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2016 Tracy Chou, a young engineer at Pinterest, is tackling tech’s women problem head-on. Nathan Heller, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2014 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'problem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of problem


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


1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for problem


Middle English probleme, from Latin problema, from Greek problēma, literally, obstacle, from proballein to throw forward, from pro- forward + ballein to throw — more at pro-, devil

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

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Problem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for problem


prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) \

Kids Definition of problem

1 : something to be worked out or solved a problem in arithmetic
2 : a person or thing that is hard to understand or deal with He's not the problem. His parents are. Her behavior is a big problem.

More from Merriam-Webster on problem

Nglish: Translation of problem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of problem for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about problem


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