Definition of difficult in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdifəkəlt/


1Needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand: she had a difficult decision to make the questions are too difficult for the children
More example sentences
  • We all acknowledged the fact that this decision is very difficult for you to understand.
  • It is as difficult for us to understand adolescents as it is for them to understand us.
  • It is very difficult for me to disagree with the statement that they deplore it.
hard, strenuous, arduous, laborious, tough, onerous, burdensome, demanding, punishing, grueling, back-breaking, exhausting, tiring, fatiguing, wearisome
informal hellish, killing
archaic toilsome
hard, complicated, complex, involved, impenetrable, unfathomable, over/above one's head, beyond one, puzzling, baffling, perplexing, confusing, mystifying;
problematic, intricate, knotty, thorny, ticklish
1.1Characterized by or causing hardships or problems: a difficult economic climate
More example sentences
  • The State of Oregon is looking hard to save where it can in this difficult business climate.
  • I was also a union steward at that time involved in long and difficult negotiations.
  • The whole situation is made more difficult by the complexity of the cost equations.
inconvenient, awkward, inopportune, unfavorable, unfortunate, inappropriate, unsuitable, untimely, ill-timed
bad, tough, grim, dark, black, hard, adverse, distressing;
1.2(Of a person) not easy to please or satisfy: Lily could be difficult
More example sentences
  • It's quite a hard thing to say, but my Nan is a very difficult person for me to be around.
  • My character in the film had a very difficult father and there was one scene in which she had to stand up to him.
  • He has succeeded in showing us that he is a difficult man, but that needed no great mastery.
troublesome, tiresome, trying, exasperating, awkward, demanding, perverse, contrary, recalcitrant, unmanageable, obstreperous, unaccommodating, unhelpful, uncooperative, disobliging;
hard to please, fussy, finicky
formal refractory



( rare)
Example sentences
  • The full complement of four cellos, double bass, percussion, three sopranos and the piano duo even hinted at one of those discarded early versions of Stravinsky's difficultly achieved masterpiece.
  • He added that the Government neglects the municipalities and works with them extremely slowly and difficultly.
  • It goes on, more difficultly still, in the attenuated sublimity of a democratic faith, that the after is not the end.


Example sentences
  • Among girls, maternal hostile child-rearing attitudes, role dissatisfaction, and perceived temperamental difficultness of the child were all significant predictors of self-esteem in adolescence.
  • High activity and low sociability are less accepted in girls than in boys, and this may explain why temperamental difficultness predicted low self-esteem among girls only.
  • They pride themselves on their difficultness.


Late Middle English: back-formation from difficulty.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words