\ˈtri-kē \
trickier; trickiest

Definition of tricky 

1 : inclined to or marked by trickery

2a : giving a deceptive impression of easiness, simplicity, or order : ticklish a tricky path through the swamp

b : trick sense 2

3 : requiring skill, knack, or caution (as in doing or handling) : difficult a tricky problem also : ingenious a tricky rhythm

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Other Words from tricky

trickily \ˈtri-​kə-​lē \ adverb
trickiness \ˈtri-​kē-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for tricky

sly, cunning, crafty, wily, tricky, foxy, artful, slick mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means. sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods. a sly corporate raider cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing. the cunning fox avoided the trap crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method. a crafty lefthander wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering. the wily fugitive escaped the posse tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering. a tricky political operative foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing. a foxy publicity man planting stories artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness. elicited the information by artful questioning slick emphasizes smoothness and guile. slick operators selling time-sharing

Examples of tricky in a Sentence

The lock is tricky to open. a tricky musical passage for the woodwind section

Recent Examples on the Web

Thursday’s data carry a caveat: seasonal adjustment tends to be tricky around holidays, skewing jobless-claims figures. Sharon Nunn, WSJ, "U.S. Jobless Claims Fell Last Week," 6 Dec. 2018 Apart from that, the only MAX-specific training was practicing cross-wind landings, which are trickier in the MAX because the wingtips have large downward-pointing strakes that might touch the ground in hard cross-winds. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "U.S. pilots flying 737 MAX weren’t told about new automatic systems change linked to Lion Air crash," 13 Nov. 2018 Grocery stores are especially tricky, as chains such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's usually shut their doors on December 25. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Here's Which Stores Are Open on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve," 21 Oct. 2018 Even with lower water levels, rescue efforts are tricky, officials have warned. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Thai soccer team rescue might need to happen sooner than expected, experts warn," 2 Oct. 2018 There are different guidelines for those who are born into royalty versus those who marry into the family, and even then, the rules are a bit tricky. Temi Adebowale, Town & Country, "Why Camilla Doesn't Use the Title 'Princess of Wales'," 13 Aug. 2018 Now, finding a good source for your vintage watches can be tricky. Matt Hranek, Condé Nast Traveler, "Time and Place: Rolex in Hilton Head," 14 Nov. 2018 One of the trickiest parts of training for a marathon is figuring out how to fuel properly—especially during your runs. Laura Schwecherl, SELF, "How to Train for a Marathon If You've Never Run One Before," 9 Sep. 2018 From there, the tricky part is finding the right mix of photos to fill in all of those spots. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "HGTV's Jasmine Roth Has An Awesome Alternative To The Basic Gallery Wall," 28 Aug. 2018

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

1786, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for tricky

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for tricky

The first known use of tricky was in 1786

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More Definitions for tricky



English Language Learners Definition of tricky

: using or likely to use dishonest tricks

: requiring skill or caution : difficult to do or deal with


\ˈtri-kē \
trickier; trickiest

Kids Definition of tricky

1 : requiring special care and skill Opening the lock is tricky.

2 : likely to use tricks

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More from Merriam-Webster on tricky

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tricky

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tricky

Spanish Central: Translation of tricky

Nglish: Translation of tricky for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tricky for Arabic Speakers

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