adjective \ ˈtri-kē \
|Updated on: 21 Aug 2018

Definition of tricky

trickier; trickiest
1 : inclined to or marked by trickery
2 a : giving a deceptive impression of easiness, simplicity, or order : ticklish
  • a tricky path through the swamp
b : trick 2
3 : requiring skill, knack, or caution (as in doing or handling) : difficult
  • a tricky problem
; also : ingenious
  • a tricky rhythm


play \ˈtri-kə-lē\ adverb


play \ˈtri-kē-nəs\ noun

Examples of tricky in a Sentence

  1. The lock is tricky to open.

  2. a tricky musical passage for the woodwind section

Recent Examples of tricky from the Web

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.

First Known Use of tricky


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Synonym Discussion of 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

TRICKY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of tricky for English Language Learners

  • : using or likely to use dishonest tricks

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

TRICKY Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈtri-kē \

Definition of tricky for Students

trickier; trickiest
1 : requiring special care and skill
  • Opening the lock is tricky.
2 : likely to use tricks

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