problem

1 of 2

noun

prob·​lem ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio)
-bᵊm,
-ˌblem
1
a
: a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution
b
: a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2
a
: an intricate unsettled question
b
: a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation
c
: difficulty in understanding or accepting
I have a problem with your saying that

problem

2 of 2

adjective

1
: dealing with a problem of conduct or social relationship
a problem play
2
: difficult to deal with
a problem child
Choose the Right Synonym for problem

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes.

mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation.

the mystery of the stone monoliths

problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.

problems created by high technology

enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

his suicide remains an enigma

riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.

the riddle of the reclusive pop star

puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution.

the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of problem in a Sentence

Noun Racism and sexism are major social problems. The company is having financial problems. He has chronic health problems. The mechanic fixed the problem with the car. There are a few problems with your argument. We have to find a way to solve this problem. She is bothered by family problems. We didn't have any problems getting here. I have my own problems to deal with. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Rooted in 18th-century moral and intellectual principles such as natural rights, the social contract, and limited government, the Constitution was simply outdated or inadequate to 20th-century circumstances and problems, according to Wilson. Charles Kesler, National Review, 20 June 2024 The Kings solved a pair of problems Wednesday by trading expensive but underperforming forward Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper, a former King, will go to the top of the team’s thin depth chart in goal. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2024
Adjective
The obvious solution to a non-problem MLB felt the need to address is to have the player on deck retrieve the bat at the plate and toss it toward the dugout. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 26 Mar. 2023 But for most of us, video might simply be the latest non-solution to a non-problem. Amanda McLoughlin, Rolling Stone, 13 Oct. 2022 See all Example Sentences for problem 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'problem.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English probleme, from Latin problema, from Greek problēma, literally, obstacle, from proballein to throw forward, from pro- forward + ballein to throw — more at pro-, devil

First Known Use

Noun

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

Adjective

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near problem

Cite this Entry

“Problem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/problem. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

problem

1 of 2 noun
prob·​lem ˈpräb-ləm How to pronounce problem (audio)
1
: something to be worked out or solved
a problem in arithmetic
2
a
: something that is hard to understand, deal with, or correct
social problems
have a problem with the car
b
: something that causes one trouble or irritation
of course the mosquitoes are a problem
c
: difficulty in understanding or accepting
I have a problem with your attitude

problem

2 of 2 adjective
1
: dealing with a problem of human conduct or social justice
a problem play
2
: difficult to deal with
a problem child

More from Merriam-Webster on problem

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