1

problem

noun prob·lem \ ˈprä-bləm , -bᵊm , -ˌblem \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of problem

1 a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution
b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2 a : 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

Examples of problem in a Sentence

  1. Racism and sexism are major social problems.

  2. The company is having financial problems.

  3. He has chronic health problems.

  4. The mechanic fixed the problem with the car.

  5. There are a few problems with your argument.

  6. We have to find a way to solve this problem.

  7. She is bothered by family problems.

  8. We didn't have any problems getting here.

  9. I have my own problems to deal with.

  10. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer.

Recent Examples of problem from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

problem

adjective

Definition of problem

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

Recent Examples of problem from the Web

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

1894



PROBLEM Defined for English Language Learners

problem

noun

Definition of problem for English Language Learners

  • : something that is difficult to deal with : something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc.

  • : difficulty in understanding something

  • : a feeling of not liking or wanting to do something


problem

adjective

Definition of problem for English Language Learners

  • : difficult to deal with


PROBLEM Defined for Kids

problem

noun prob·lem \ ˈprä-bləm \

Definition of problem for Students

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.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up problem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to remove or wipe out

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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