trou·​ble | \ˈtrə-bəl \

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 \

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 \ 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

Speaking of couples who’ve had a rocky journey, Beth and Randall’s new working relationship is already in trouble. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Season 3 Episode 8: Miguel Claps Back," 21 Nov. 2018 Among those perks, critics say: Not getting in trouble for screwing up. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "When Will Ivanka Trump Stop Getting Excused for Screwing Up?," 20 Nov. 2018 At a time when New York pollution was so thick, residents occasionally had trouble seeing the city’s bridges, the case for public transit was literally in the air. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Public transit’s missed opportunity," 20 Nov. 2018 Ahead of an upcoming software update, Google is offering Pixel 3 owners free money for their troubles. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Google offers Pixel 3XL users free Play Store credit, promises bug fixes 'in the coming weeks'," 6 Nov. 2018 Social media has certainly gotten applicants in trouble in the past—even on occasions where students had already been accepted to a college or university. Kim Quindlen, Teen Vogue, "25% of College Admissions Officers Say They Look at Applicants’ Social Media," 28 Nov. 2018 Why critics underestimated Tesla Analysts thought Tesla was in trouble earlier this year because the company had been burning almost a billion dollars a quarter in late 2017 and early 2018. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why almost everyone was wrong about Tesla’s cash flow situation," 26 Oct. 2018 Its commercial launch business, hopes for planetary exploration, and other domestic programs are in trouble. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Is Riled Up About Being Left Behind in Space," 10 Oct. 2018 Anything powder-based will cause trouble, unfortunately. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "8 Things You Should Never Wash Down The Sink," 17 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While the trend may be troubling for Democrats, the evolving political landscape remains unsettled two weeks before Election Day, even with millions of votes already cast across 20 states. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Senate slipping away as Dems fight to preserve blue wave," 23 Oct. 2018 Instead of painting over the cracks, fill them properly and you shouldn't be troubled by them again. The Editors Of House Beautiful, House Beautiful, "How to Fix Holes or Cracks in Plaster," 11 Feb. 2015 This has, this has troubled now four U.S. presidents. NBC News, "Meet the Press - July 8, 2018," 8 July 2018 The prospect of losing VA facilities in their districts likely will trouble members of Congress in the years ahead and their only options will be voting the commission's list up or down. Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, "Congress on verge of reforming VA health care," 18 May 2018 Royce Winters, director of the archdiocese's Office for African American Pastoral Ministries, sees how the disconnect between doctrine and practice is troubling for black Catholics. Mark Curnutte,, "'Racism is a pro-life issue': The Catholic Church's latest response to racism in America," 3 June 2018 That type of scheme could trouble a Kentucky defense still lacking experience on the second-team unit. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How Kentucky football can win (or lose) against South Carolina," 6 July 2018 The risks of the interviews don’t trouble immigration hard-liners. Washington Post, "Attorneys: Parents in fragile state for asylum interviews," 6 July 2018 But when Erasmus’s estranged son is sent to prison, leaving Erasmus’s troubled young grandson Bill in his and Paul’s care, the couple adapt to the child’s needs. Andrew Fleming, New York Times, "Review: A Child Adds a Layer to Gay Couple’s ‘Ideal Home’," 28 June 2018

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

18 Dec 2018

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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)

: to make (someone) feel worried or upset

: to disturb or bother (someone)

: to cause (someone) to feel pain



English Language Learners Definition of trouble (Entry 2 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


trou·​ble | \ˈtrə-bəl \

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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