[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 difficulty

Contemporary Examples of difficulty

Historical Examples of difficulty

  • Mr. Paine looked up as he entered, and had no difficulty in guessing his errand.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • She managed it with difficulty between the convulsions that were rending her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But there is one difficulty which it is impossible to remove.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • He climbed down with difficulty, clutching one hand with the other.

  • You think of your wife, grappling with a kind of difficulty to which she is unaccustomed.

British Dictionary definitions for difficulty


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 difficulty

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