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

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 dated, informal : the state of being pregnant while unmarried 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from trouble


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

Examples of trouble in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb The accusations troubled him deeply. I'm troubled by his strange behavior. I don't mean to trouble you, but I have a question.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Look to the campaign's travel plans for the best evidence Trump may be in trouble. Steve Peoples, Star Tribune, "2020 Watch: Is it too late for Trump to turn things around?," 12 Oct. 2020 Four years later, in December 2017, Ahmaud was in trouble again — arrested for shoplifting. Omar Villafranca, CBS News, "Attorneys for the three White men accused of killing a Black Georgia jogger offer a surprising defense," 10 Oct. 2020 Privately, Republican insiders concede Trump is in trouble there. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Trump fights to hang on to crucial electoral vote in Nebraska 2nd District," 6 Oct. 2020 When a system is in trouble, continuing to cut spending to the programs most critical of supporting the mission is a recipe for disaster. Jacob Calvin Meyer,, "Howard school board District 4 candidates Jen Mallo and Sezin Palmer discuss virtual learning, redistricting," 5 Oct. 2020 A night when Anthony Davis, mired in foul trouble, turned mortal for the first time in the series, with 15 points for the Lakers. Ira Winderman,, "Jimmy Butler powers Heat past Lakers 115-104 to move within 1-2 in NBA Finals," 4 Oct. 2020 Getting in trouble here and there as a young’un, my dad never just kept his foot off me. Mark Inabinett |, al, "After signing big deal, Marlon Humphrey battles tears talking about his dad," 2 Oct. 2020 Others spoke of being left in isolation rooms for days after getting in trouble for things like not getting out of bed or asking for an inhaler. Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Paris Hilton creates petition to shut down Provo Canyon School," 30 Sep. 2020 A week ago, the Cardinals were the NFL’s hot team and the Panthers were in serious trouble without Christian McCaffrey. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers picks, predictions: Who wins Week 4 NFL game?," 30 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Officials said the tax records seem to reflect other Trump traits that would probably trouble counterintelligence experts. Author: Greg Miller, Yeganeh Torbati, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s debts and foreign deals pose security risks, former intelligence officials say," 29 Sep. 2020 But because Silberman, of Lincolnwood, is the child of two Holocaust survivors, the findings trouble her. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "After national survey reveals ignorance of Holocaust, local Jews, Skokie museum resolve to continue education," 29 Sep. 2020 At the moment, this doesn’t seem to trouble the president. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Trumpian Politics Is the Greatest Threat to a Coronavirus Vaccine," 8 Sep. 2020 Best Buy’s technology team works together on a range of tasks from working on the company’s website and mobile app to creating the tools that employees use to trouble shoot customer issues. Nicole Norfleet, Star Tribune, "Best Buy says 30% of 1,000 new tech hires will be people of color or women," 28 Aug. 2020 Chances are, even if Porzingis plays Thursday, his knee will trouble him. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "Even if Kristaps Porzingis returns in Game 6, it may not be enough for a Mavericks fairy tale finish," 26 Aug. 2020 Sandgren nearly upended Roger Federer at the Australian Open in January but barring late in the second set, didn't really trouble the Serb. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "'It's like dating a guy that you know sucks,' says Serena Williams after loss," 26 Aug. 2020 But many police departments can gain access to the images through partnerships with private companies that trouble some civil rights activists. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "When Private Security Cameras Are Police Surveillance Tools," 11 Aug. 2020 This new technology doesn’t use traditional facial recognition, but the idea of constant surveillance—even in a system that’s designed to discard the information—may trouble workers enough to balance out the more comfortable temperature. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The HVAC System of the Future Swaps Thermostats for Thermal Cameras," 17 June 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trouble

Time Traveler for trouble

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for trouble

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trouble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for trouble


How to pronounce trouble (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on trouble

What made you want to look up trouble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!