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 More problematic were his breaking pitches, which, unlike other starts when Buehler still managed to limit damage and work deeper into games, weren’t able to get him out of trouble. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2022 Relegation is even more problematic when the teams at the bottom aren’t even that bothered by it either. Zak Garner-purkis, Forbes, 2 June 2022 This can be more problematic in populated areas such as apartment complexes where people walk dogs and have small children. CBS News, 1 June 2022 This factor becomes even more problematic because each side has an incentive to increase misperception in the other through deception, bluster and bluff. Michael S. Neiberg, Washington Post, 27 May 2022 Perhaps more problematic, their lawyers argue, is the devastating impact the mass killing has had on their community — where the jurors would come from. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, 24 May 2022 That may be more problematic, though, when part of what they're being engaged over proves to be exercises in legislative futility. Rick Klein, ABC News, 12 May 2022 In the end, Cleveland’s Darius Garland/Jarrett Allen could prove more problematic than what the inconsistent Nets throw out there against Boston. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 The crackdown on password sharing could be more problematic, though. Michael Liedtke And Mae Anderson, Chron, 23 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But many find the measurement of internal consistency problematic. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2017 Staging requirements make the SkyShow problematic now and virtually impossible once other phases of the project crowd the 166-acre property. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of problematic


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1898, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of problematic was in 1609

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Problematic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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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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