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[truhb-uh l] /ˈtrʌb əl/
verb (used with object), troubled, troubling.
to disturb the mental calm and contentment of; worry; distress; agitate.
to put to inconvenience, exertion, pains, or the like:
May I trouble you to shut the door?
to cause bodily pain, discomfort, or disorder to; afflict:
to be troubled by arthritis.
to annoy, vex, or bother:
Don't trouble her with petty complaints now.
to disturb, agitate, or stir up so as to make turbid, as water or wine:
A heavy gale troubled the ocean waters.
verb (used without object), troubled, troubling.
to put oneself to inconvenience, extra effort, or the like.
to be distressed or agitated mentally; worry:
She always troubled over her son's solitariness.
difficulty, annoyance, or harassment:
It would be no trouble at all to advise you.
unfortunate or distressing position, circumstance, or occurrence; misfortune:
Financial trouble may threaten security.
civil disorder, disturbance, or conflict:
political trouble in the new republic; labor troubles.
a physical disorder, disease, ailment, etc.; ill health:
heart trouble; stomach trouble.
mental or emotional disturbance or distress; worry:
Trouble and woe were her lot in life.
an instance of this:
some secret trouble weighing on his mind; a mother who shares all her children's troubles.
effort, exertion, or pains in doing something; inconvenience endured in accomplishing some action, deed, etc.:
The results were worth the trouble it took.
an objectionable feature; problem; drawback:
The trouble with your proposal is that it would be too costly to implement.
something or someone that is a cause or source of disturbance, distress, annoyance, etc.
a personal habit or trait that is a disadvantage or a cause of mental distress:
His greatest trouble is oversensitivity.
the Troubles.
  1. the violence and civil war in Ireland, 1920–22.
  2. the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, beginning in 1969.
in trouble, Informal. pregnant out of wedlock (used as a euphemism).
Origin of trouble
1175-1225; (v.) Middle English troublen < Old French troubler < Vulgar Latin *turbulare, derivative of *turbulus turbid, back formation from Latin turbulentus turbulent; (noun) Middle English < Middle French, derivative of troubler
Related forms
troubledly, adverb
troubledness, noun
troubler, noun
troublingly, adverb
nontroubling, adjective
overtrouble, verb, overtroubled, overtroubling.
self-troubled, adjective
self-troubling, adjective
untroubled, adjective
1. concern, upset, confuse. 4. pester, plague, fret, torment, hector, harass, badger. 12. concern, grief, agitation, care, suffering. 15. trial, tribulation, affliction, misfortune.
1. mollify; delight.
Synonym Study
14. See care. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for troubling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Demarest grew grave again, as he put the question that was troubling him most.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It was this memory that was troubling the Little Colonel now.

    The Little Colonel Annie Fellows Johnston
  • I was then left alone for some hours and my appetite was troubling me.

    City of Endless Night Milo Hastings
  • We'll have to get his mind off of whatever it is that's troubling him.

    Frank Roscoe's Secret Allen Chapman
  • It appeared as though something, that had been troubling him, had been settled to his satisfaction.

    Frank Roscoe's Secret Allen Chapman
British Dictionary definitions for troubling


a state or condition of mental distress or anxiety
a state or condition of disorder or unrest: industrial trouble
a condition of disease, pain, or malfunctioning: she has liver trouble
a cause of distress, disturbance, or pain; problem: what is the trouble?
effort or exertion taken to do something: he took a lot of trouble over this design
liability to suffer punishment or misfortune (esp in the phrase be in trouble): he's in trouble with the police
a personal quality that is regarded as a weakness, handicap, or cause of annoyance: his trouble is that he's too soft
  1. political unrest or public disturbances
  2. the Troubles, political violence in Ireland during the 1920s or in Northern Ireland between the late 1960s and the late 1990s
the condition of an unmarried girl who becomes pregnant (esp in the phrase in trouble)
(transitive) to cause trouble to; upset, pain, or worry
(intransitive) usually with a negative and foll by about. to put oneself to inconvenience; be concerned: don't trouble about me
(intransitive; usually with a negative) to take pains; exert oneself: please don't trouble to write everything down
(transitive) to cause inconvenience or discomfort to: does this noise trouble you?
(transitive; usually passive) to agitate or make rough: the seas were troubled
(transitive) (Caribbean) to interfere with: he wouldn't like anyone to trouble his new bicycle
Derived Forms
troubled, adjective
troubler, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French troubler, from Vulgar Latin turbulāre (unattested), from Late Latin turbidāre, from turbidus confused, from turba commotion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for troubling



early 13c., from Old French trubler (11c.), metathesis of turbler, from Vulgar Latin *turbulare, from Late Latin turbidare "to trouble, make turbid," from Latin turbidus (see turbid). Related: Troubled; troubling.



c.1200, "agitation of the mind, emotional turmoil," from Old French truble, related to trubler (see trouble (v.)). From early 15c. as "a concern, a cause for worry." The Troubles in reference to times of violence and unrest in Ireland is attested from 1880, in reference to the rebellion of 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for troubling
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with troubling
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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