\ ˈtri-kē How to pronounce tricky (audio) \
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
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 How to pronounce tricky (audio) \ adverb
trickiness \ ˈtri-​kē-​nəs How to pronounce tricky (audio) \ 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 While understanding how the switch works can be tricky for newbies, most come with instructions to guide you through the process. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Smart Light Switches To Best Brighten (Or Dim) Your Home," 22 Jan. 2021 That could be tricky for Haaland since New Mexico is the top producer of oil on federal lands. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Meet Joe Biden's climate 'dream team'," 25 Dec. 2020 However, the issue is politically tricky for Democrats, because the benefits largely go to the top-earning taxpayers, and Democrats have campaigned on raising taxes for the wealthy. Laura Davison,, "Lawmaker to Shame New Yorkers Who Donate to Anti-SALT Candidates," 7 Dec. 2020 This can be tricky for parents during COVID-19, but Bartlett advises to simply give kids a sense of order rather than a rigid schedule. Gulnaz Khan, Family, "COVID-19 infections are surging. So are kids’ fears," 30 Nov. 2020 It’s also a storytelling problem: Trying to tie the dozens of smaller stories generated by the unfolding disaster into a single, digestible narrative for a national publication is tricky. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Colorado River Crisis Is a National Crisis," 8 Feb. 2021 That makes the potential post-pandemic surge of demand a tricky situation for the Fed and other economic policymakers. New York Times, "Is Inflation About to Take Off? That’s the Wrong Question," 16 Jan. 2021 Because the Trump administration did not issue a comprehensive national vaccination plan, states have no recommendations to refer to when faced with a tricky situation like this one. Jacob Stern, The Atlantic, "D.C.’s Vaccine Jackpots Are Getting Out of Control," 13 Jan. 2021 Flores has also done a nice job managing a tricky quarterback situation between rookie Tua Tagavailoa and vet Ryan Fitzpatrick, the duo leading the Fins in six of their last seven games despite a switch from Fitz to Tua and then back. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "NFL Week 13 roundtable: Who's getting the most out of the least?," 7 Dec. 2020

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

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tricky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce tricky (audio) \
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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