trou·​ble | \ ˈtrə-bəl How to pronounce trouble (audio) \

Definition of trouble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the quality or state of being troubled especially mentally
2 : public unrest or disturbance there's trouble brewing downtown
3 : an instance of trouble used to disguise her frustrations and despair by making light of her troublesCurrent Biography
4 : a state or condition of distress, annoyance, or difficulty in trouble with the law heading for trouble got into financial trouble : such as
a : a condition of physical distress or ill health : ailment back trouble heart trouble
b : a condition of mechanical malfunction engine trouble
c : a condition of doing something badly or only with great difficulty has trouble reading has trouble breathing
d : pregnancy out of wedlock got a girl in trouble
5 : an effort made : pains took the trouble to do it right
6a : a cause of distress, annoyance, or inconvenience don't mean to be any trouble what's the trouble?
b : a negative feature : drawback the trouble with you is you're too honest the main trouble with electronic systems is the overreliance on them— John Perham
c : the unhappy or sad fact the trouble is, I need the money


troubled; troubling\ ˈtrə-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce troubling (audio) \

Definition of trouble (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to agitate mentally or spiritually : worry, disturb
b : to put to exertion or inconvenience I'm sorry to trouble you
c(1) : to produce physical disorder in : afflict troubled by a cold
(2) archaic : mistreat, oppress
2 : to put into confused motion the wind troubled the sea

intransitive verb

1 : to become mentally agitated : worry refused to trouble over trifles
2 : to make an effort : be at pains did not trouble to come

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Other Words from trouble


troubler \ ˈtrə-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce troubler (audio) \ noun

Examples of trouble in a Sentence


The new system is giving me trouble. He was having trouble with his homework. I had a little trouble finding the place. He had no trouble finding a new job. gangs looking to make trouble When the new CEO arrived, the company was in trouble. She got into trouble with her credit cards. He's always getting in trouble at school. She has been having trouble with her knee.


The accusations troubled him deeply. I'm troubled by his strange behavior. I don't mean to trouble you, but I have a question.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Pentagon has had some trouble with the nominees for some of its top jobs in the last few months. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Warren says woman who accused general of sexual misconduct should appear before Senate Armed Services Committee," 12 July 2019 That teenage daughter with the IRL filter-mask gets into a spot of trouble with an illicit Russian cybermodification surgery. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "HBO's Years and Years Unlocks Sci-Fi's Ultimate Potential," 11 July 2019 After an in-person training, the adults got support over the phone for a few months to help them work through the challenges of helping a teen in trouble. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Teens are increasingly depressed, anxious, and suicidal. How can we help?," 11 July 2019 Watching the red-carpet lineup at the ESPYs was enough to get a committed girl in trouble (drooling usually doesn’t go over well with bae). Shalwah Evans, Essence, "The Men Of The ESPYs Reminded Us Of Just How Much We Love Black Men In Beards," 11 July 2019 When Arndt was having trouble with spreadsheets (the bane of many a young analyst's early career), Lauren worked with him one-on-one to help him get up to speed. Adrienne Gaffney, Town & Country, "The Other Passenger: Who Was Lauren Bessette?," 9 July 2019 Kenton had been having trouble with neck pain the day before, and Shepelew thought the massager might help. John Wilkens,, "Behind the story: Discovering the brotherhood of the Navy's bomb squad," 28 June 2019 That independence sometimes gets the group in trouble. Ann Finkbeiner, Science | AAAS, "Jason—a secretive group of Cold War science advisers—is fighting to survive in the 21st century," 27 June 2019 Then during the stop, Herta’s team had trouble with the fueling rig, dropping him to eighth, 19 seconds back. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Colton Herta’s struggles, Scott Dixon’s drive … and more from Sunday at Road America," 23 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the online multiplayer game's use of exclusively white male avatars has troubled some players looking for a more diverse set of character customization options. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Mordhau developer denies it was planning a “toggle” for diversity," 2 July 2019 And some interesting – and in some cases, troubling – findings. Julie Heath,, "Region's Economy: The state of Ohio's financial capability," 2 July 2019 After a comfortable 2-0 win over Sweden, comfortably the second best side in the group, the American defence hadn't really been challenged, certainly not troubled., "The Secret's Out – Spain Just Showed the Whole Women's World Cup How to Beat the USWNT," 24 June 2019 The quandary of what to do with whale corpses has troubled coastal populations for decades, and has inspired some novel methods for disposing of the behemoths. New York Times, "A Beached Whale Needs Somewhere to Rot. How About Your Place?," 17 June 2019 But the changes mean that flights are sometimes concentrated into more narrow corridors, which troubles residents on the ground. Washington Post, "House passes amendment to prioritize efforts to combat airplane, helicopter noise," 26 June 2019 But what really troubled the auditors was the level of gang activity at the prison—and the employees’ tolerance of it. Joseph Neff And Alysia Santo, USA TODAY, "What happened when this prison couldn't hire enough guards? It put gangs in charge," 25 June 2019 For months, the county’s troubled Probation Department has been dogged by reports that its detention officers have been using pepper spray at alarmingly high rates to control and discipline youths in juvenile facilities. Maya Lau,, "Plan to phase out pepper spray this year at L.A.'s juvenile halls hits a potential snag," 25 June 2019 Benatar made some massive hits of the ‘80s, many of which alluded to a romantic landscape that was troubled and even dangerous. John Adamian,, "Female rockers Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge and Liz Phair at Foxwoods," 21 June 2019

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for trouble


Middle English, from Anglo-French trubler, from Vulgar Latin *turbulare, from *turbulus agitated, alteration of Latin turbulentus — more at turbulent

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Statistics for trouble

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trouble

The first known use of trouble was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for trouble



English Language Learners Definition of trouble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: problems or difficulties
: a situation that is difficult or has a lot of problems
: a situation that occurs if you do something wrong or break a rule and which will make someone angry or cause you to be punished



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

: to make (someone) feel worried or upset
formal : to disturb or bother (someone)
: to cause (someone) to feel pain


trou·​ble | \ ˈtrə-bəl How to pronounce trouble (audio) \

Kids Definition of trouble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that causes worry or distress : misfortune I've suffered many troubles.
2 : an instance of distress or disturbance Don't make trouble.
3 : extra work or effort They took the trouble to write.
4 : ill health : ailment “Your trouble comes from years of wearing the wrong kind of shoes,” Jake lectured.— Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game
5 : failure to work normally He had trouble with the engine.


troubled; troubling

Kids Definition of trouble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to become or make worried or upset … reading this book will make you feel anxious, because you will be troubled by the disturbing suspense …— Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator
2 : to produce physical disorder in : afflict He's troubled with weak knees.
3 : to put to inconvenience Don't trouble yourself; I can do it.
4 : to make an effort Do not trouble to write.

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More from Merriam-Webster on trouble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trouble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trouble

Spanish Central: Translation of trouble

Nglish: Translation of trouble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trouble for Arabic Speakers

Comments on trouble

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