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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from problematic


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

Synonyms for problematic

Synonyms: Adjective

catchy, delicate, difficult, dodgy [chiefly British], hairy, knotty, nasty, prickly, sensitive, spiny, sticky, thorny, ticklish, touchy, tough, tricksy, tricky

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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


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 those same capabilities can allow for problematic and discriminatory targeting if used unchecked. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "ACLU says Facebook allowed discriminatory job ads that didn’t appear to women," 18 Sep. 2018 The dollar’s strength is becoming increasingly problematic for U.S. multinationals that need to convert foreign profits into the U.S. currency. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Strong Dollar Casts Shadow Over Stock Market Rally," 12 Feb. 2019 The fact that instead of simply owning up to his error, Giuliani immediately turned toward accusing Twitter of anti-Trump bias is extremely problematic. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Rudy Giuliani accuses Twitter of bias for hyperlinking text," 5 Dec. 2018 But to have so many of them essentially, now, in charge of what have become, basically, the locomotives of human history now, these various platforms, is really, really problematic. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Elites like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos think they’re being philanthropic. But they could do so much more.," 3 Oct. 2018 There’s no magic number of nocturnal awakenings that is inherently problematic. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "How Many Times Is It Normal to Wake Up at Night?," 27 Sep. 2018 That could also become problematic, since those facilities are already nearing capacity, according to a report last week from NBC News. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "Trump administration racing the clock to reunite 2,000 families," 27 June 2018 The designs of the studies can also be problematic. Jessica Wapner, SELF, "How Worried Do You Really Need to Be About Your Screen Time?," 7 Feb. 2019 Several of the studies also used similar methodology and data as previous research, which could be problematic if other, perhaps more rigorous methods produced different findings. German Lopez, Vox, "A big, new review of the evidence finds that prescription heroin works," 6 Dec. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of problematic


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1898, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about problematic

Dictionary Entries near problematic








Statistics for problematic

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for problematic

The first known use of problematic was in 1609

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for problematic



English Language Learners Definition of problematic

: difficult to understand, solve, or fix

Keep scrolling for more

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).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

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

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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