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 trouble (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 trouble (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Teams still get in trouble for breaking any number of the rules in the NCAA’s esoteric 464-page rulebook. Brian Mcgill, WSJ, 3 Sep. 2021 But the Supreme Court will not be intervening, which could signal trouble for Roe v. Wade and other legal issues related to women’s bodies, health, and safety. Erin Coulehan, Glamour, 2 Sep. 2021 Combining an experienced offensive line along with a quarterback who has started big games, including Boise State’s 2019 season-opening win at Florida State, could spell trouble for UCF. Jason Beede,, 31 Aug. 2021 Dozens of corporations chronically in trouble for poisoning air and water. Nicole Stock,, 30 Aug. 2021 Winds have long been the X-factor in the state’s extreme fire behavior, officials said, so the forecast for the week could spell trouble for crews and for residents awaiting answers. Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2021 The trees spell trouble for many things further up the food chain, said Betty Charnonan, the invasive plant program manager with the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Aug. 2021 Now, the company’s activism could spell trouble – among left-leaning skiers, at least – for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 24 Aug. 2021 That spells trouble for retailers and consumer goods companies trying to restock inventories heading into the crucial year-end holiday shopping season. Hanna Ziady, CNN, 23 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Republican comments drew criticism from Democrats, who cast them as a hypocritical ploy that could trouble financial markets. Kate Davidson, WSJ, 22 July 2021 The specter of more bodies lost off the coast of Florida should trouble the conscience of a White House that has taken pains to differentiate itself from predecessors. Rena Kraut, Star Tribune, 20 July 2021 The stock fell slightly Thursday morning, but one down day shouldn’t trouble investors. Charley Grant, WSJ, 15 July 2021 As the number of coronavirus infections rises around the country, lawmakers like Kidd and Seitz have adopted responses that trouble many health officials. Jeremy Kohler, ProPublica, 21 July 2021 The celebration was premature and the events that were about to unfold would enter Japanese lore in ways that would both inspire and trouble the nation. New York Times, 18 July 2021 Its emergence reflects a rising breed of right-wing politics that, for all its bluster, does not trouble itself very much about America’s past in the first place. Matthew Karp, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Barty does not let obstacles trouble her for too long., 8 July 2021 And the flashbacking narrative addresses, with surprising subtlety, buoyant wit and fearless theatricality, several matters that superhero sagas aren’t supposed to trouble themselves about. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 7 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for trouble

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

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trouble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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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 : worry
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on trouble

Nglish: Translation of trouble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trouble for Arabic Speakers


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