Definition of trouble in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌb(ə)l/


[mass noun]
1Difficulty or problems: I had trouble finding somewhere to park friends should support each other when they are in trouble the government’s policies ran into trouble [count noun]: our troubles are just beginning
More example sentences
  • Others face pressures which can affect their commitment to college, such as financial difficulties, housing problems, or troubles at home.
  • So, travelers from both sides suffer lots of troubles and inconveniences, such as difficulties in booking seats and paying overly expensive rates.
  • The troubles and tribulations of parents to equip their wards for their examination and mushroom growth of coaching centres do not augur well for students, parents or society.
problems, difficulty, issues, bother, inconvenience, worry, anxiety, distress, concern, disquiet, unease, irritation, vexation, annoyance, stress, agitation, harassment, unpleasantness
informal hassle
problem, misfortune, difficulty, issue, trial, tribulation, trauma, adversity, hardship, burden, distress, pain, suffering, affliction, torment, woe, grief, unhappiness, sadness, heartache, misery
archaic travails
in difficulty, in difficulties, having problems, in a mess, in a bad way, in a predicament, in dire/desperate straits, heading for disaster, heading for the rocks, with one's back against the wall
informal in shtook, in a tight corner/spot, in a fix, in a hole, in hot water, up the creek (without a paddle), in a jam, in a pickle, in the soup, screwed, up against it
British informal up a gum tree
vulgar slang in the shit, in deep shit, up shit creek
1.1The malfunction of something such as a machine or a part of the body: their helicopter developed engine trouble
More example sentences
  • He said afterwards that his towing aircraft was either hit by flak or developed engine trouble.
  • They were to being given an airborne tour of the area when the helicopter developed trouble.
  • Eddie and Paddy developed engine trouble while Padraic and Sinead broke a drive shaft on the last stage.
disease, illness, sickness, ailment, complaint, problem;
disorder, disability
malfunction, dysfunction, failure, breakdown, fault
1.2Effort or exertion made to do something, especially when inconvenient: I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble he’s gone to a lot of trouble to help you
More example sentences
  • Carson had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that things would be near perfect.
  • Their most recent research found people felt recycling was inconvenient and too much trouble.
  • I refused to put him to any trouble on my account.
bother, inconvenience, fuss, effort, exertion, work, labour;
pains, care, attention, thought
informal hassle
1.3A cause of worry or inconvenience: the kid had been no trouble up to now
More example sentences
  • Sometimes those arrested are simple innocents who have taken too much drink and are no trouble or danger to anyone but themselves.
  • Householders neighbouring the site said there had been no trouble but they are concerned of the damage the travellers may cause.
  • While his mother and sisters were away Albert was no trouble.
nuisance, bother, inconvenience, irritation, irritant, problem, trial, pest, cause of annoyance, source of difficulty, thorn in someone's flesh/side
informal headache, pain in the neck, pain, pain in the backside, drag, bore
North American informal pain in the butt, burr in/under someone's saddle, nudnik
Australian informal fair cow
British vulgar slang pain in the arse
1.4A particular aspect of something regarded as unsatisfactory or as a source of difficulty: that’s the trouble with capitalism
More example sentences
  • The trouble with this approach is that Scott deprives the story of any political, social or even emotional context.
  • The trouble with adult stem cells, the disadvantage of them is two-fold really.
  • The trouble with tar oil preservatives, it is difficult to get them to penetrate.
shortcoming, weakness, weak point, failing, fault, imperfection, defect, blemish;
problem, difficulty
1.5A situation in which one is liable to incur punishment or blame: he’s been in trouble with the police
More example sentences
  • What if collaborating below and/or laterally gets you in trouble with the hierarchy above you?
  • Because I was continually in trouble with the police, they were made to make a decision.
  • You might hurt the bully and get sued or in trouble with the police.
1.6 informal, dated Used to refer to the condition of a pregnant unmarried woman: she’s not the first girl who’s got herself into trouble
More example sentences
  • I knew, that in our society, I would be labelled a "bad girl" who got herself into trouble.
  • Families went to great lengths to avoid neighbors and friends finding out their daughter had ‘got herself into trouble’.
  • Oh dear, she's gone the next step and got herself into trouble.
2Public unrest or disorder: there was crowd trouble before and during the match
More example sentences
  • The smoking ban has caused little trouble in our local public houses.
  • Among the highlights were crowd trouble, arrests and the inevitable tabloid furore that accompanies such incidents.
  • Offenders could face fines of up to £500 and Rochdale council can ban alcohol in public places where trouble is rife.
disturbance, disorder, unrest, bother, fighting, scuffling, conflict, tumult, commotion, turbulence, uproar, ructions, fracas, rumpus, brouhaha, furore, breach of the peace
Law , dated affray
informal to-do, hoo-ha, hullabaloo
British informal kerfuffle
2.1 (the Troubles) Any of various periods of civil war or unrest in Ireland, especially in 1919–23 and (in Northern Ireland) since 1968.


[with object]
1Cause distress or anxiety to: he was not troubled by doubts
More example sentences
  • He went to trial a broken man, depressed and troubled by acute anxieties.
  • Denial is a powerful emotional defence against acknowledging painful, distressing or troubling knowledge.
  • Others have come home deeply distressed and troubled by what they witnessed.
worry, bother, cause concern to, concern, disturb, upset, make anxious, make uncomfortable, make uneasy, agitate, distress, grieve, alarm, perturb, annoy, irritate, vex, irk, torment, plague, nag, niggle, gnaw at, prey on someone's mind, weigh/lie heavy on someone's mind, oppress, weigh down, burden, afflict;
perplex, puzzle
informal bug
1.1 [no object] (trouble about/over/with) Be distressed or anxious about: she was too concerned with her own feelings to trouble about Clare’s
More example sentences
  • Literary fashion moved away from works that troubled themselves with too much meaning, with a ‘larger reality’ or the moral dimensions of human aspiration.
  • That is nothing you should trouble yourself with.
  • ‘Don't trouble yourself with that,’ Lady Miller said, ‘Your father will deal with it as he always has.’
be anxious, be distressed, be concerned, concern oneself, worry, upset oneself, fret, agonize
1.2Cause (someone) pain: my legs started to trouble me
More example sentences
  • Randy was troubled by back pain at times.
  • The pain was troubling him towards the latter stages but with a week to recover to the next game, he has the time to mend properly.
  • He looked paler and sweatier than usual, and one leg seemed to trouble him a bit.
be afflicted with/by, be bedevilled by, be beset with/by, be dogged by, be incapacitated with, be racked with, be cursed with;
suffer from
informal be a martyr to
archaic ail with
1.3Cause (someone) inconvenience (typically used as a polite way of asking someone to do something): sorry to trouble you could I trouble you for a receipt?
More example sentences
  • ‘I'm sorry for troubling you, but we just want to speak with you concerning your son,’ Manda spoke up.
  • I will be off now, I am sorry for troubling you with my qualms… it is not a very noble thing, to tell a man who is not my husband each fear that crosses my mind.
  • "I'm sorry for troubling you," the girl politely replied.
inconvenience, cause inconvenience to, bother, impose on, create difficulties for, disturb, put out, disoblige
informal hassle
rare discommode, incommode
1.4 [no object, with infinitive] Make the effort required to do something: oh, don’t trouble to answer
More example sentences
  • I am accustomed to facing a wall of silence from academics I challenge, thus my surprise that you have troubled to answer.
  • Alison rolled her eyes, not bothering to trouble with an answer the second time.
  • In this case, where Chomsky makes an extreme assertion without troubling to give a source at all, it requires examining a large amount of material to come to a conclusion.
bother, take the trouble/time, go to the trouble, make the effort, exert oneself, go out of one's way



ask for trouble

informal Act in a way that is likely to incur problems or difficulties: hitching a lift is asking for trouble
More example sentences
  • If there's one thing I've learnt during the years I've been doing my current job, it's that I should never try to update the website and send a virus alert within an hour of going home - it's just asking for trouble.
  • Pointing the finger and shouting in someone's face, that's asking for trouble.
  • But war without end is not a policy; it's asking for trouble.

look for trouble

informal Behave in a way that is likely to provoke an argument or fight: youths take a cocktail of drink and drugs before going out to look for trouble
More example sentences
  • You were looking for a fight and you were looking for trouble.
  • Scarlet loves fighting and is always looking for trouble… some say that he dresses in red so that nobody will notice the blood stains on his clothes…
  • So foxes have an undeserved reputation for aggressive behaviour - they do not look for trouble, they do not pick a fight.

take the trouble

Exert effort and energy in accomplishing or attempting something: we should take the trouble to find out more
More example sentences
  • They haven't even taken the trouble of picking up the phone and saying they're sorry for our loss.
  • It is obvious that he has not taken the trouble to avail himself of all the information relevant, which was freely available to anyone who cared to look.
  • Organised divers are the ones who allow for bad traffic and long queues—they have probably taken the trouble to check ahead.

trouble and strife

British rhyming slang Wife.
Example sentences
  • The rhymers par excellence have been the Cockneys of London, who have developed an elaborate and colourful collection of slang terms based on rhyme, such as trouble and strife for ‘wife’ and mince pies for ‘eyes’.
  • Forget the trouble and strife (and I know what that's a cockneyism for!) forget the chores and the deadlines, forget that the nose is at the grindstone, that the shoulder is to the wheel, that the coalface is being confronted.
  • Thus the trouble and strife would walk down the apples and pears and along the frog and toad to use the public dog and bone.

a trouble shared is a trouble halved

proverb Talking to someone else about one’s problems helps to alleviate them.
Example sentences
  • The saying, ‘a trouble shared is a trouble halved’ is just as true when it comes to your physical health as it is in relation to your emotional health.
  • They say a trouble shared is a trouble halved, but when holiday anxiety strikes, I suffer in silence.
  • Build a social support network of friends and family - remember a trouble shared is a trouble halved.



Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌblə/
Example sentences
  • Other Baptist itinerants up and down the Atlantic coast proved themselves to be ‘troublers of churches in all places where they have been.’
  • Cynics may even wonder where these grubby guitar troublers keep materialising from, given the current climate for all things retro, Stooges and, well, rock ‘n’ roll.
  • Professor Watt of Belfast used to say that the Reformation took place without the help of Arminianism, and that when it eventually entered the Church it did so as a troubler.


Middle English: from Old French truble (noun), trubler (verb), based on Latin turbidus (see turbid).

  • Our word trouble comes, by way of Old French truble, from Latin turbidus ‘disturbed, turbid’, source of turbid (early 17th century), and related to disturb (Middle English), perturb (Late Middle English), and turbulent (mid 16th century). From the start, in the 13th century, it meant ‘difficulty or problems’. ‘Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward’ is from the biblical book of Job who was a virtuous man that God tested by sending him many troubles. Most people now think of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as beginning in the early 1970s, but the same term applied to the unrest around the partition of Ireland in 1921, and in an 1880 glossary of words used in Antrim and Down the Troubles are defined as ‘the Irish rebellion of 1641’. The first troubleshooters had a very specific occupation. In the early years of the 20th century they mended faults on telegraph or telephone lines.

Words that rhyme with trouble

bubble, double, Hubble, nubble, rubble, stubble

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trouble

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