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 problematic (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 problematic (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 But the timing of his declarations is particularly problematic for the party, given the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine whether Republicans can keep control of the chamber. Jonathan Lemire, Anchorage Daily News, "With a video filmed in secret, Trump keeps sowing chaos," 23 Dec. 2020 What’s more, the refusal of Trump’s supporters to accept the election result could be problematic for Republicans that will need their energy and backing for the 2022 elections and beyond. Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas News, "Donald Trump’s Dallas-area supporters won’t accept his loss, say populist movement continues," 23 Dec. 2020 But the timing of his declarations is particularly problematic for the party, given the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine whether Republicans can keep control of the chamber. Arkansas Online, "In final weeks, Trump keeps sowing chaos, hamstringing GOP," 23 Dec. 2020 Rapid intensification is problematic for hurricane specialists because intensity is determined by both large-scale factors — such as the surrounding environment — and small-scale processes occurring inside the storm. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Hurricane Facts: Which storm saw a record 75 mph power jump in 24 hours?," 21 Dec. 2020 After avoiding Trump during the 2016 campaign, Ducey came to embrace him, even when Trump’s policies were problematic for Ducey’s allies in the Arizona business community. Jonathan J. Cooper,, "Arizona Republican Party asking if followers are willing to die for Trump, openly beefing with GOP governor," 11 Dec. 2020 The situation is particularly problematic for smaller suppliers who may not have the resources to put in place the pandemic protection procedures used at big assembly plants. Paul A. Eisenstein, NBC News, "Ford to delay launch of new Bronco as pandemic drives parts supply shortages," 7 Dec. 2020 This will be problematic for Owen, who’s had a tough day at the office. Lincee Ray,, "Grey's Anatomy recap: Guess who’s back?," 4 Dec. 2020 The Biden family's foreign business dealings were problematic for the incoming president during the primary and general elections. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden says Trump should attend his inauguration 'for the country'," 3 Dec. 2020

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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Problematic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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