- 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.
Origin of painful
SynonymsSee more synonyms for painful on Thesaurus.com
1. distressing, torturing, agonizing, tormenting, excruciating. 2. arduous.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for painfully
At once uproarious, raw, and painfully honest, “Discord” unveils the many virtues and vices of these towering icons.The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson (And Tolstoy and Dickens)
October 26, 2014
It was a painfully slow process and, worse yet, not a lot of fun.You Can Look It Up: The Wikipedia Story
October 19, 2014
At the moment, that process is very complicated and painfully slow.Air Force Pilots Say They're Flying Blind Against ISIS
October 10, 2014
The wife he lost is painfully near as this riveting book gets underway.Mexico City: Francisco Goldman’s Other Lost Love
September 25, 2014
Instead, we see there is a painfully innocent happiness to Rene about her spiritual “transformation.”Mississippi Is Hell for These Lesbians
August 8, 2014
For he had been painfully conscious now and then that he played but second fiddle.Weighed and Wanting
But, in truth, it did surprise her to see how slowly and painfully he walked as he left her.Rico and Wiseli
They spoke of him as "he," and as leading a painfully worthless and disreputable life.In the Valley
Then Josie, painfully sweet: "Did you get the invitation, Betty?"The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
He was painfully conscious of what he had missed, had lost—or had not yet found: the love of woman.The Black Bag
Louis Joseph Vance
- causing pain; distressinga painful duty
- affected with paina painful leg
- tedious or difficult
- informal extremely bada painful performance
Word Origin and History for painfully
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper