[ dif-i-kuhlt, -kuhlt ]
/ ˈdɪf ɪˌkʌlt, -kəlt /


Origin of difficult

1350–1400; Middle English, back formation from difficulty
SYNONYMS FOR difficult
1 arduous. See hard.
2 intricate, perplexing, involved, knotty.
4 particular, finical, fussy.
5 obdurate, uncompromising.
Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for difficult

British Dictionary definitions for difficult


/ (ˈdɪfɪkəlt) /


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

Word Origin for difficult

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



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper