word problem


: a mathematical problem expressed entirely in words typically used as an educational tool

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In high school physics, every lab and every word problem is about something falling down. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 2 June 2010 In one experiment, students were each given a word problem. Joseph T. Hallinan, Discover Magazine, 20 May 2014 Putting the building back to good use, though, is much more complicated than answering a word problem. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, 20 May 2021 Measuring the availability of iron in your diet is like the dreaded word problem in high school math, spun out by the teacher who never liked you. Sharman Apt Russell, Scientific American, 20 May 2021 In a moment perhaps intended as both cheeky commentary and scene setting, a student gets frustrated with a math teacher because a word problem centers on cisgender characters. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, 11 Mar. 2021 This was not true for the word problem portion of our test. Sian Beilock, Quartz, 19 Feb. 2020 Our children are being locked in small, overcrowded rooms for several hours each day, forced to solve complicated word problems of no practical value. Alex Baia Thatcher Jensen, The New Yorker, 7 June 2019 Placement tests also aren’t perfect, because reading passages and word problems may reference subjects some students aren’t familiar with, while other students may underperform because of nerves, Zaback said. Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post, 12 Aug. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'word problem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1903, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of word problem was in 1903

Dictionary Entries Near word problem

Cite this Entry

“Word problem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/word%20problem. Accessed 29 Jan. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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