\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

Sacred Games is awash in gunfights, dreamily gorgeous production, and tricky overhead shots. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 The Klamathon Fire at the California-Oregon border was further contained overnight and growth was halted, despite tricky, inaccessible terrain on the northern flank, Cal Fire said Wednesday. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "Northern California wildfire updates: Pacific Crest Trail closures in effect despite progress on Klamathon Fire," 11 July 2018 While always thrilling, navigating the vintage market can be tricky, given that there are an overwhelming amount of options from dealers, auction houses, and eBay. Matt Hranek, Condé Nast Traveler, "Time and Place: Rolex in Upstate New York," 23 May 2018 That might sound simple, because these enzymes were not new, but the tricky part was to figure out a safe, effective way to deliver them to the liver. Smithsonian, "A Hangover Pill Is Working on Drunk Mice," 10 May 2018 The thing that’s tricky with autonomous vehicles is that autonomy doesn’t reduce the accident rate or fatality rate to zero. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Elon Musk went rogue on Tesla’s earnings call and its stock plummeted. Here’s what he did and didn’t say.," 3 May 2018 What’s tricky with Zelle is that it’s backed by dozens of banks, and even included in some banks' mobile apps themselves. Jennifer Jolly, USA TODAY, "Venmo scams: How to use a payment app without getting ripped off," 16 Mar. 2018 The point of building up an emergency fund is to tackle unexpected costs, big and small, but with 40% of Americans unable to pay a surprise $400 expense, finding that cash can be tricky. Abby Haglage,, "4 Women Explain Why They Liquidated Their 401(k)s — & If It Was Worth It," 13 July 2018 But translating such knowledge into a practical identification system can be tricky—especially if that system is supposed to be covert. The Economist, "The way people walk can be used for ID and health checks," 12 July 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

16 Oct 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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Comments on tricky

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