affected with, causing, or characterized by pain: a painful wound; a painful night; a painful memory.
laborious; exacting; difficult: a painful life.
Archaic. painstaking; careful.
- pain·ful·ly, adverb
- pain·ful·ness, noun
- o·ver·pain·ful, adjective
- o·ver·pain·ful·ly, adverb
- o·ver·pain·ful·ness, noun
- un·pain·ful, adjective
- un·pain·ful·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use painful in a sentence
While I didn’t project my own father onto the character of Jacob, what was really scary and painful but also so beautiful was in some ways realizing that I am my father, and I am an extension of him and his will and his desires.
Despite the painful loss, Conque said, Hill’s first words in that call were, “I had fun tonight.”A rare disease, a covid diagnosis, a painful decision: The death of basketball coach Lew Hill | Dave Sheinin | February 11, 2021 | Washington Post
“I realized what made that moment so painful was the absence of presence,” Crivello said.Will virtual offices make physical offices obsolete? | Nicolás Rivero | February 7, 2021 | Quartz
For parents, the notion that the impact of painful events can transcend children’s memories is unsettling.What happens to our lost childhood memories? Motherhood sent me looking for answers. | Missy Ryan | February 4, 2021 | Washington Post
You are the adult who can manage the awkward conversations about your son or frustrating forms of communication or even a painful broken attachment if “the mother takes her away.”Carolyn Hax: Her son isn’t there for his child, but she can still be a good grandma | Carolyn Hax | February 4, 2021 | Washington Post
To his critics, he explained—sometimes at painful length—his reasoning against it.
But while his departure was “inexpressibly painful,” he never succumbed to bitterness.
What follows is hysterical, painful, weird, and strangely touching—a true Festivus for the rest of us.
I turned left, and began the long, painful walk to the emergency room at the University of Virginia medical center.I Was Gang Raped at a UVA Frat 30 Years Ago, and No One Did Anything | Liz Seccuro | December 16, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The audience--tout Hollywood--stands to cheer his slow and painful trek from the wings to the table.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days | David Freeman | December 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The voice of duty called her to the kitchen, where her cook patiently awaited her inevitable, and always painful, audience.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3) | Charles James Wills
It is painful to add, that the latter years of his life were passed in prison, where he was confined for debt.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology | Joel Munsell
In a thousand trials the cruel witness of Moses has sent innocent women to a painful death.God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
I did not anticipate a tour of pleasure through Ireland, but the reality is more painful than I anticipated.Glances at Europe | Horace Greeley
He sees no longer the brink of the abyss beside which the path of progress picks its painful way.The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice | Stephen Leacock
British Dictionary definitions for painful
causing pain; distressing: a painful duty
affected with pain: a painful leg
tedious or difficult
informal extremely bad: a painful performance
- painfully, adverb
- painfulness, 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