pain·​ful ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio)
painfuller ˈpān-fə-lər How to pronounce painful (audio) ; painfullest
: feeling or giving pain
a painful injury
: requiring effort or exertion
a long painful trip
archaic : careful, diligent
painfully adverb
painfulness noun

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Example Sentences

I got a painful sunburn. We can't ignore our country's painful history of slavery. His questions brought up a lot of painful memories. It was painful to watch.
Recent Examples on the Web While most patients with monkeypox fully recover from the virus without treatment, some patients may get seriously ill and the monkeypox lesions can be extremely painful. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 22 Sep. 2022 Stings from mauve stingers are considered extremely painful according to Bologna, who once allowed himself to be stung by one. Andrea Vacchiano, Fox News, 1 Sep. 2022 Symptoms of monkeypox can be extremely painful, and the rash may leave those infected with permanent scarring. Helena Oliviero, ajc, 26 Aug. 2022 No one has died of monkeypox in the U.S., and most people recover without treatment, but the skin lesions that can develop can be extremely painful. Grace Tooheystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 25 Aug. 2022 The blisters can be extremely painful, however, and some people have been hospitalized for pain treatment. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 17 Aug. 2022 These can be extremely painful, and the virus causes two to four weeks of illness that can be severe., 11 Aug. 2022 The earliest symptoms often include a fever, swollen glands and muscle aches, followed by a rash that can be extremely painful. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 Its most obvious symptom is skin lesions, which can, in severe cases, be extremely painful. Peter Weber, The Week, 8 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of painful was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near painful

Cite this Entry

“Painful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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Medical Definition



pain·​ful ˈpān-fəl How to pronounce painful (audio)
painfuller -fə-lər How to pronounce painful (audio) ; painfullest
: feeling or giving pain

More from Merriam-Webster on painful

Last Updated: 26 Sep 2022

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