prob·​lem·​at·​ic | \ ˌprä-blə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce problematic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly problematical \ ˌprä-​blə-​ˈma-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce problematical (audio) \

Definition of problematic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : posing a problem : difficult to solve or decide
b : not definite or settled : uncertain their future remains problematic
c : open to question or debate : questionable
2 : expressing or supporting a possibility



Definition of problematic (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is problematic : a problematic aspect or concern

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Other Words from problematic


problematically \ ˌprä-​blə-​ˈma-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce problematically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for problematic

Synonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for problematic


doubtful, dubious, problematic, questionable mean not affording assurance of the worth, soundness, or certainty of something. doubtful implies little more than a lack of conviction or certainty. doubtful about whether I said the right thing dubious stresses suspicion, mistrust, or hesitation. dubious about the practicality of the scheme problematic applies especially to things whose existence, meaning, fulfillment, or realization is highly uncertain. whether the project will ever be finished is problematic questionable may imply no more than the existence of doubt but usually suggests that the suspicions are well-grounded. a man of questionable honesty

Examples of problematic in a Sentence

Adjective Rules of grammar are more problematic for non-native speakers. the problematic situation of somehow having two dates for the same party
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective What's problematic is that screening these older films often brings small theaters more revenue during film festivals, throwback nights and singular double and triple features, the article states. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "Shelbyville's drive-in beat the odds to survive. What's next? It needs a second screen.," 16 Jan. 2020 In the second season of , everyone's problematic fave (read: serial killer) Joe Goldberg finds his perfect match in Love Quinn, a charming Californian chef with a past that's just as dark as his. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Victoria Pedretti on You Season 2, That "Disturbing" Sex Scene, and Whether Season 3 Is Happening," 11 Jan. 2020 Algal blooms in the drinking supply are problematic for several reasons. National Geographic, "Australia's raging fires will create big problems for fresh drinking water," 10 Jan. 2020 Avoid hardwired plugs; replacement could be problematic. Jim Allen, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Turntables at Any Price You Can Buy Right Now," 30 Dec. 2019 Joker’ The film was problematic in many ways, including the unrelenting grimness, overreliance on homage and relatively predictable story line. Steve Byrne, Detroit Free Press, "2019 entertainment Top 10: Raconteurs, Tame Impala, 'The Deuce,' Murals in the Market," 29 Dec. 2019 This is problematic, Norvell maintains, because neighborhood contracts pay for 95 percent of the costs associated with the deputies assigned to their area. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Chad Norvell files for candidacy for Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable," 12 Dec. 2019 The wide receiver position outside of the redoubtable Julian Edelman has been problematic., "As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, it is time for my annual look at the State of the Teams. As always, they will be taken in alphabetical order.," 27 Dec. 2019 Scattered access to these recycling options can be problematic, said Jerry Tinianow, a sustainability consultant and the former chief sustainability officer for Denver. Conrad Swanson, The Denver Post, "Denver will no longer recycle Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons or bows," 26 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'problematic.' 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 problematic


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1898, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for problematic

Time Traveler

The first known use of problematic was in 1609

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Statistics for problematic

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Problematic.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for problematic


How to pronounce problematic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of problematic

: difficult to understand, solve, or fix

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Comments on problematic

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


dull or mediocre

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