problem

noun
prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) , -bᵊm, -ˌblem \

Essential Meaning of problem

1 : something that is difficult to deal with : something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc. Racism and sexism are major social problems. The company is having financial problems. See More ExamplesShe has a drug problem. [=she is addicted to drugs] He has chronic health/medical problems. She has a weight problem. [=her weight is not healthy] 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/personal/marriage problems. We didn't have any problems getting here. I have my own problems to deal with. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer. When he drinks too much, he causes problems. The problem with you is that you're too stubborn. We would love to have a dog. The only problem is (that) [=the reason that would be difficult is] we don't have the time to take care of it. The fact that you're late is not my problem. [=I am not responsible for helping you deal with the problem of being late]Hide
2 : difficulty in understanding something I'm having a problem following your argument.
3 : a feeling of not liking or wanting to do something "We'll have to leave a little early." "OK, I don't have a problem with that." [=that doesn't bother me] "He says he won't go." "What's his problem? " [=why is he being so unreasonable?]

Full Definition of problem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution
b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2a : 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

adjective

Definition of problem (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for problem

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for problem

Noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati Is Cincinnati's dominance of the American a problem for Ridder's Heisman chances? Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 21 Oct. 2021 Johnson said a major problem for women in the area was losing their jobs after contracting the coronavirus. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, 20 Oct. 2021 Transition defense was a problem for the Blazers during their 0-4 preseason that included a 107-93 loss to the Kings. oregonlive, 20 Oct. 2021 The problem for Gillespie in that 2017 race was that voters who disapproved of Trump's performance significantly outnumbered those who approved of him. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, 19 Oct. 2021 Key findings from the report highlighted that climate change is no longer a problem for future generations but instead impacts today's society with consequences being felt around the world. Ankit Mishra, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021 Tumbling birth rates across the region will also become a bigger problem for many mid-size public colleges, compounding the devastation wrought by Covid-19. BostonGlobe.com, 18 Oct. 2021 The server who spoke to NBC said the shorts haven’t been a problem for her. NBC News, 15 Oct. 2021 Which caused a problem for head coach Chris Hauser. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In response largely to a non-problem, Democrats want to trample on the prerogatives of states to conduct elections, mandating their electoral priorities throughout the land. Rich Lowry, National Review, 9 Mar. 2021 The staff is trained to address residents who show confused or problem behavior. San Diego Elder Law Center, sandiegouniontribune.com, 24 Apr. 2018 Many people might be surprised to learn that undocumented immigrants are not typically problem children. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 5 Mar. 2017 Problem officers make things difficult for good ones, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, America’s largest police-labor organization. Gary Fields, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2016 Tracy Chou, a young engineer at Pinterest, is tackling tech’s women problem head-on. Nathan Heller, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2014

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'problem.' 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 problem

Noun

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

Adjective

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for problem

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

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Time Traveler for problem

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near problem

probity

problem

problematic

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Statistics for problem

Last Updated

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Problem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/problem. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for problem

problem

noun
prob·​lem | \ ˈprä-bləm How to pronounce problem (audio) \

Kids Definition of problem

1 : something to be worked out or solved a problem in arithmetic
2 : a person or thing that is hard to understand or deal with He's not the problem. His parents are. Her behavior is a big problem.

More from Merriam-Webster on problem

Nglish: Translation of problem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of problem for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about problem

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