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difficult

[dif-i-kuhlt, -kuhlt]
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adjective
  1. not easily or readily done; requiring much labor, skill, or planning to be performed successfully; hard: a difficult job.
  2. hard to understand or solve: a difficult problem.
  3. hard to deal with or get on with: a difficult pupil.
  4. hard to please or satisfy: a difficult employer.
  5. hard to persuade or induce; stubborn: a difficult old man.
  6. disadvantageous; trying; hampering: The operation was performed under the most difficult conditions.
  7. fraught with hardship, especially financial hardship: We saw some difficult times during the depression years.
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Origin of difficult

1350–1400; Middle English, back formation from difficulty
Related formsdif·fi·cult·ly, adverbnon·dif·fi·cult, adjectivequa·si-dif·fi·cult, adjectivequa·si-dif·fi·cult·ly, adverbsu·per·dif·fi·cult, adjectivesu·per·dif·fi·cult·ly, adverbun·dif·fi·cult, adjectiveun·dif·fi·cult·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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1. arduous. See hard. 2. intricate, perplexing, involved, knotty. 4. particular, finical, fussy. 5. obdurate, uncompromising.

Antonyms

1. easy. 2. simple.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

troublesomecrucialtoughproblematicarduousonerousdemandingseverestrenuousambitiousburdensomelaboriouspainfulchallengingcomplexdelicateconfusinggrimintractablegargantuan

Examples from the Web for difficult

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But when the morning came he found the task a difficult one to enter upon.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Philippe acquainted her with the joys and griefs of his difficult profession.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The ablutionary fluid is most difficult to be had in places where water is abundant.

  • At the moment of parting he began to realize that he had undertaken a difficult task.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • "I think you would find it a difficult undertaking," he said.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger


British Dictionary definitions for difficult

difficult

adjective
  1. not easy to do; requiring efforta difficult job
  2. not easy to understand or solve; intricatea difficult problem
  3. hard to deal with; troublesomea difficult child
  4. not easily convinced, pleased, or satisfieda difficult audience
  5. full of hardships or trialsdifficult times ahead
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Derived Formsdifficultly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: back formation from difficulty
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

Word Origin and History for difficult

adj.

c.1400, apparently a back-formation from difficulty. French has difficile, Latin difficilis. Of persons, "hard to please," from 1580s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper