[dif-i-kuhlt, -kuhlt]
See more synonyms for difficult on Thesaurus.com
  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.

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 for difficult

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

Antonyms for difficult

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

Related Words for difficultly

arduously, laboriously, strenuously, rigorously

Examples from the Web for difficultly

Contemporary Examples of difficultly

Historical Examples of difficultly

British Dictionary definitions for difficultly


  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
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 difficultly



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