knot·​ty | \ ˈnä-tē How to pronounce knotty (audio) \
knottier; knottiest

Definition of knotty

: marked by or full of knots especially : so full of difficulties and complications as to be likely to defy solution a knotty problem

Other Words from knotty

knottiness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for knotty

complex, complicated, intricate, involved, knotty mean having confusingly interrelated parts. complex suggests the unavoidable result of a necessary combining and does not imply a fault or failure. a complex recipe complicated applies to what offers great difficulty in understanding, solving, or explaining. complicated legal procedures intricate suggests such interlacing of parts as to make it nearly impossible to follow or grasp them separately. an intricate web of deceit involved implies extreme complication and often disorder. a rambling, involved explanation knotty suggests complication and entanglement that make solution or understanding improbable. knotty ethical questions

Examples of knotty in a Sentence

the knotty problems that arise when every nation is part of the global marketplace the candidates cautiously gave their views on an array of knotty issues
Recent Examples on the Web And yet Native identity can itself be a knotty subject, perhaps especially so for artists. Susannah Gardiner, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Apr. 2022 For school districts, attendance is a knotty problem. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Prices for lower grades of pine timber, such as the young, thin and knotty trees that are pulped for paper and cardboard, have climbed even more sharply than saw logs, rising by about a third since summer 2020, according to TimberMart-South. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2022 All were left to honor the acclaimed writer who passed away, a daughter of the Capitol City whose relationship with it was knotty. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2021 The Dead were mushy and hazy; The Fall were knotty and nasty. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, 22 Dec. 2021 The company’s Bellemont plant uses a scanner that divides boards into knotty and smooth sections and signals a saw to separate those segments so the higher-grade pieces can be joined together to make a more valuable board. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 15 Oct. 2021 The band’s intricate, at times proudly knotty music draws from some of the same sources as the Dead’s. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Oct. 2021 The court was divided 5-4, with conservatives in the majority, on another knotty issue, whom to target with a court order that ostensibly tries to block the law. Mark Sherman, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of knotty

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About knotty

Time Traveler for knotty

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near knotty

knotting bill


knotty brake

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for knotty

Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Knotty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for knotty


knot·​ty | \ ˈnä-tē How to pronounce knotty (audio) \
knottier; knottiest

Kids Definition of knotty

1 : full of lumps, knobs, tangles, or hard spots knotty muscles knotty wood
2 : difficult sense 3 a knotty problem

More from Merriam-Webster on knotty

Nglish: Translation of knotty for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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