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

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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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 Equally problematic is that when charters do find educational ideas that work, these are squirreled away to benefit only that operation, and not shared to the benefit of students elsewhere. Peter Greene, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Goal-setting around health in the New Year isn't inherently problematic, Ingraham said, but goal setting toward weight loss, in particular, is setting people up for failure. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 30 Dec. 2021 Countries where infections are surging are particularly problematic, according to Alex Constantinescu, CEO of Alex International Transport 94 SRL, which operates 130 trucks that deliver pharmaceutical and food products throughout the continent. Fortune, 28 Dec. 2021 Cancellations could be even more problematic as teams near their respective conference play. Edward Lee,, 21 Dec. 2021 Even more problematic: all six teams in the at-risk games—Raiders-Browns, Seahawks-Rams and Washington-Eagles—are in the playoff hunt and would have played one fewer game then their counterparts. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, 20 Dec. 2021 As such, misinformation by physicians can be particularly problematic. Timothy Caulfield, Scientific American, 15 Dec. 2021 That’s a public health dilemma on its own, but the confluence of unchecked HIV with widespread coronavirus transmission is especially problematic on a global scale, many experts say. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Dec. 2021 But more problematic is that some of this is simply effort — the Lakers deciding to put more energy into defending with pride and passion. Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2021

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

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The first known use of problematic was in 1609

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Problematic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for problematic



English Language Learners Definition of problematic

: difficult to understand, solve, or fix

More from Merriam-Webster on problematic

Nglish: Translation of problematic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of problematic for Arabic Speakers


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