• synonyms


[peyn-fuh l]
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  1. affected with, causing, or characterized by pain: a painful wound; a painful night; a painful memory.
  2. laborious; exacting; difficult: a painful life.
  3. Archaic. painstaking; careful.
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Origin of painful

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at pain, -ful
Related formspain·ful·ly, adverbpain·ful·ness, nouno·ver·pain·ful, adjectiveo·ver·pain·ful·ly, adverbo·ver·pain·ful·ness, nounun·pain·ful, adjectiveun·pain·ful·ly, adverb


See more synonyms for painful on Thesaurus.com
1. distressing, torturing, agonizing, tormenting, excruciating. 2. arduous.


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

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British Dictionary definitions for painful


  1. causing pain; distressinga painful duty
  2. affected with paina painful leg
  3. tedious or difficult
  4. informal extremely bada painful performance
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Derived Formspainfully, adverbpainfulness, 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 painful


mid-14c., from pain (n.) + -ful. Related: Painfully; painfulness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper