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adjective, knot·ti·er, knot·ti·est.
  1. having knots; full of knots: a knotty piece of wood.
  2. involved, intricate, or difficult: a knotty problem.

Origin of knotty

First recorded in 1200–50, knotty is from the Middle English word cnotti. See knot1, -y1
Related formsknot·ti·ly, adverbknot·ti·ness, nounun·knot·ty, adjective

Synonyms for knotty

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for knotty


adjective -tier or -tiest
  1. (of wood, rope, etc) full of or characterized by knots
  2. extremely difficult or intricate
Derived Formsknottily, adverbknottiness, noun
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 knotty

mid-13c. (figurative use early 13c.), from knot (n.) + -y (2). Related: Knottiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper