prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) , -bᵊm, -ˌblem \

Definition of problem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution
b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2a : an intricate unsettled question
b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation
c : difficulty in understanding or accepting I have a problem with your saying that



Definition of problem (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : dealing with a problem of conduct or social relationship a problem play
2 : difficult to deal with a problem child

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Synonyms & Antonyms for problem

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of problem in a Sentence

Noun Racism and sexism are major social problems. The company is having financial problems. He has chronic health problems. The mechanic fixed the problem with the car. There are a few problems with your argument. We have to find a way to solve this problem. She is bothered by family problems. We didn't have any problems getting here. I have my own problems to deal with. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The problem with the vaccine batch was first reported by The New York Times. Richard Lardner, Anchorage Daily News, "Johnson & Johnson says a batch of its COVID-19 vaccine failed a quality check and can’t be used," 1 Apr. 2021 The problem extends globally, but there’s an obvious solution. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "A Vaccine Passport Would Be an Ethical Disaster Right Now," 31 Mar. 2021 In fact, the only problem with any enterprise featuring these two most enduring titans is that there is always a necessary but troublesome plot involving people. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Godzilla vs. Kong Pairs Two Formidable Monster Foes—Too Bad About the People," 31 Mar. 2021 Hundreds of thousands of people in its rural areas have struggled to get online, a problem underscored after the coronavirus pandemic pushed many functions of life onto the internet. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Chef initiative, ice fishing trash, Tribeca plans: News from around our 50 states," 31 Mar. 2021 That is a boon for the government, and a problem for Labour. The Economist, "The truth behind the Tories’ northern strongholds," 31 Mar. 2021 Service & Guarantee – Full 12-month warranty, any quality problem, please do contact us at any time. Maren Estrada, BGR, "Amazon shoppers are obsessed with this nonstick frying pan – today it’s only $14," 30 Mar. 2021 Experts blame the problem on an outdated federal seat strength standard, unchanged since the late 1960s — a standard that even a banquet chair tested by CBS News passed. CBS News, "Alleged car seatback failures blamed for more than 100 accidents in 30 years, primarily involving kids," 30 Mar. 2021 With the app residents take pictures of a problem and satellite technology gives the city its the exact location. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego’s Get it Done app update includes Spanish option, new map shows nearby reports," 30 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In response largely to a non-problem, Democrats want to trample on the prerogatives of states to conduct elections, mandating their electoral priorities throughout the land. Rich Lowry, National Review, "H.R. 1 Is a Partisan Disgrace," 9 Mar. 2021 The staff is trained to address residents who show confused or problem behavior. San Diego Elder Law Center,, "CHECKLIST: When it's time for memory care," 24 Apr. 2018 Many people might be surprised to learn that undocumented immigrants are not typically problem children. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "7 Reasons Why China Banned ICOs," 5 Mar. 2017 Problem officers make things difficult for good ones, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, America’s largest police-labor organization. Gary Fields, WSJ, "Why Some Problem Cops Don’t Lose Their Badges," 30 Dec. 2016 Tracy Chou, a young engineer at Pinterest, is tackling tech’s women problem head-on. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "How Pinterest Engineer Tracy Chou Is Breaking the Silicon Ceiling," 21 Nov. 2014

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'problem.' 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 problem


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for problem


Middle English probleme, from Latin problema, from Greek problēma, literally, obstacle, from proballein to throw forward, from pro- forward + ballein to throw — more at pro-, devil

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Time Traveler for problem

Time Traveler

The first known use of problem was in the 14th century

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Statistics for problem

Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Problem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for problem



English Language Learners Definition of problem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is difficult to deal with : something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc.
: difficulty in understanding something
: a feeling of not liking or wanting to do something



English Language Learners Definition of problem (Entry 2 of 2)

: difficult to deal with


prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) \

Kids Definition of problem

1 : something to be worked out or solved a problem in arithmetic
2 : a person or thing that is hard to understand or deal with He's not the problem. His parents are. Her behavior is a big problem.

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