Definition of difficulty in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdɪfɪk(ə)lti/

noun (plural difficulties)

[mass noun]
1The state or condition of being difficult: Guy had no difficulty in making friends I managed with difficulty to struggle upright
More example sentences
  • The lack of air in a birth chart can indicate difficulty in the expression of that person.
  • Monet's desire to become a painter was something his father accepted with difficulty.
  • No wonder we have such difficulty in getting really good candidates to stand.
strain, struggling, awkwardness, trouble, toil, labour, laboriousness, strenuousness, arduousness;
pains, problems, trials and tribulations
informal hassle, stress
literary dolour, travails
complexity, complicatedness, intricacy, perplexity, knottiness, awkwardness;
difficultness, trickiness, hardness;
obscurity, abstruseness
1.1 [count noun] A thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand: there is a practical difficulty a club with financial difficulties
More example sentences
  • In addition, some firms encounter difficulties in understanding the new rules of the game.
  • I have the professional experience that allows me to understand his difficulties.
  • School was very hard for me but doing sports helped me deal with the difficulties of it.
problem, complication, issue, disadvantage, snag, hitch, drawback, pitfall, handicap, impediment, hindrance, obstacle, hurdle, stumbling block, obstruction, barrier
informal fly in the ointment, prob, headache, hiccup, facer
British informal spanner in the works
North American informal monkey wrench in the works
dated cumber
literary trammel
1.2 (difficulties) A situation that is difficult or dangerous: they went for a swim but got into difficulties
More example sentences
  • In two separate incidents, two divers got into difficulties in Scapa Flow on Sunday.
  • He had got into difficulties in the Atlantis outdoor swimming pool on Sunday afternoon.
  • It is thought one of the men may have fallen in, and then the other went to try to help and also got into difficulties.
trouble, distress, crisis, hardship;
adversity, extremity, need;
hard times, dire straits;
predicament, quandary, dilemma, plight
informal hot water, deep water, a fix, a jam, a spot, a scrape, a stew, a hole, a pickle


Late Middle English (in the senses 'requiring effort or skill' and 'something difficult'): from Latin difficultas, from dis- (expressing reversal) + facultas 'ability, opportunity'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dif|fi¦culty

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