[dif-i-kuhl-tee, -kuhl-tee]
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noun, plural dif·fi·cul·ties.
  1. the fact or condition of being difficult.
  2. Often difficul·ties. an embarrassing situation, especially of financial affairs.
  3. a trouble or struggle.
  4. a cause of trouble, struggle, or embarrassment.
  5. a disagreement or dispute.
  6. reluctance; unwillingness.
  7. a demur; objection.
  8. something that is hard to do, understand, or surmount; an impediment or obstacle.

Origin of difficulty

1350–1400; Middle English difficulte (< Anglo-French) < Latin difficultās, equivalent to difficil(is) difficile + -tās -ty2
Related formspre·dif·fi·cul·ty, noun, plural pre·dif·fi·cul·ties.

Synonyms for difficulty

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for difficulties

Contemporary Examples of difficulties

Historical Examples of difficulties

  • She was not a woman in the habit of reasoning, and had no conception of the difficulties in his way.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • As a last rally, he tried to picture the difficulties he might encounter.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But let me tell you something of Champollion's difficulties.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Lake Torrens was reached, and then the difficulties of the expedition began.

  • But this does not astonish us when we understand the difficulties which he was obliged to solve.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

British Dictionary definitions for difficulties


noun plural -ties
  1. the state or quality of being difficult
  2. a task, problem, etc, that is hard to deal with
  3. (often plural) a troublesome or embarrassing situation, esp a financial one
  4. a dispute or disagreement
  5. (often plural) an objection or obstaclehe always makes difficulties
  6. a trouble or source of trouble; worry
  7. lack of ease; awkwardnesshe could run only with difficulty

Word Origin for difficulty

C14: from Latin difficultās, from difficilis difficult, from dis- not + facilis easy, facile
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 difficulties



late 14c., from Old French difficulté, from Latin difficultatem (nominative difficultas) "difficulty, distress, poverty," from difficilis "hard," from dis- "not, away from" (see dis-) + facilis "easy" (see facile).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper