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prob·​lem·​at·​ic ˌprä-blə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce problematic (audio)
variants or less commonly problematical
: posing a problem : difficult to solve or decide
a problematic situation
: not definite or settled : uncertain
Their future remains problematic.
: open to question or debate : questionable
It is problematic whether … terrorist attacks and conflicts … will generate the national coherence that twentieth-century wars did.Samuel P. Huntington
: having or showing attitudes (such as racial prejudice) or ideas (such as falsehoods) that are offensive, disturbing, or harmful
The page is monitored for trolling and members can report any problematic posts.Nicole Morley
"We are bombarded with so much problematic content, from misinformation to hate speech," [Maria D. Molina] said.Jonathan F. McVerry
[Philip] Nel said the decision to no longer publish titles that include racist caricatures showed just one way to address problematic material.Edward Helmore
logic : expressing or supporting a possibility
a problematic proposition
problematically adverb


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: something that is problematic : a problematic aspect or concern
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
Cast members such as Donald Glover have spoken out in the past about Chase’s problematic set behavior. Zack Sharf, Variety, 26 Sep. 2023 These deals turn problematic when the company holding the lease keeps collecting monthly fees but, in an effort to keep costs low for investors, skimps on the actual service part of the deal. Alana Semuels, Time, 26 Sep. 2023 While iodine poisoning is rare, the overconsumption of iodine can be just as problematic as consuming too little. Mary Shomon, Verywell Health, 17 Sep. 2023 There is also more problematic content on the site overall. Max Hoppenstedt, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2023 Michael Thomas / Getty Images Barra singled out the disruption to the production of its pickups and the Savana Cargo van as especially problematic. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 15 Sep. 2023 But the consultation applied only to chicken made using Upside’s current, problematic processes: sheets of tissue produced in roller bottles and tissue cultivators. WIRED, 15 Sep. 2023 Quarterback runs, an issue that’s proven problematic for Oregon’s defense through the first two weeks of the season, will almost surely not be an issue against Hawaii but the Ducks still addressed it this week. oregonlive, 14 Sep. 2023 When Jenkins complained to the company about the problematic employee, he was told the colleague was a high earner and effectively untouchable. Byirina Ivanova, Fortune, 12 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'problematic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of problematic was in 1609

Dictionary Entries Near problematic

Cite this Entry

“Problematic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also problematical
: difficult to solve or decide : puzzling
a problematic situation
: not settled : uncertain
their future is still problematic
: open to question
the evidence is problematic

More from Merriam-Webster on problematic

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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