Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Hard to do or accomplish; demanding considerable effort or skill; arduous: "To entertain is far more difficult than to enlighten” ( Anthony Burgess). See Synonyms at hard.
  • adj. Hard to endure; trying: fell upon difficult times.
  • adj. Hard to comprehend or solve: a difficult puzzle.
  • adj. Hard to please, satisfy, or manage: a difficult child.
  • adj. Hard to persuade or convince; stubborn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. hard, not easy, requiring much effort
  • adj. hard to manage, uncooperative, troublesome; eg. said of a person, a horse, etc.
  • v. To make difficult; to impede; to perplex.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Hard to do or to make; beset with difficulty; attended with labor, trouble, or pains; not easy; arduous.
  • adj. Hard to manage or to please; not easily wrought upon; austere; stubborn.
  • transitive v. To render difficult; to impede; to perplex.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not easy; requiring or dependent on effort; hard; troublesome; arduous.
  • Hard to do, perform, or overcome; attended with labor, pains, or opposition; laborious: as, a difficult undertaking.
  • Hard to please or satisfy; not compliant; unaccommodating; rigid; austere: as, a person of difficult temper.
  • Hard to persuade or induce; stubborn in yielding; obstinate as to opinion: as, he was difficult to convince.
  • Hard to understand or solve; perplexing; puzzling: as, a difficult passage in an author; a difficult question or problem.
  • Synonyms Difficult, Hard, Arduous (see arduous), laborious, toilsome; obscure, knotty.
  • To make difficult; impede.
  • To perplex; embarrass.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. hard to control
  • adj. not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure

Etymologies

Middle English, back-formation from difficulte, difficulty; see difficulty.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From difficulty, from Middle English difficultee, from Old French difficulté, from Latin difficultas, from difficul, older form of difficilis ("hard to do, difficult"), from dis- + facilis ("easy"); see difficile. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It is of course extremely difficult to collect satisfactory data on such a point, —difficult to reach the men, to get trustworthy testimony, and to gauge that testimony by any generally acceptable criterion of success.

    VI. Of the Training of Black Men.

  • The uncertain light made her expression difficult to read, but Odosse thought she saw pain there—a great deal more pain than belonged in such a young face.

    THE RIVER KINGS’ ROAD

  • KING: Jeanette, what does the term difficult mean to you?

    CNN Transcript Mar 13, 2008

  • How freakin difficult is it to drop some food and water in there?

    Federalize it now « BuzzMachine

  • Felipe Massa did his best to make Hamilton's clinching of the title difficult as he took pole today for the Brazilian GP.

    FastMachines.com

  • Among other stocks, Anglo-Dutch consumer-products group Unilever gained 2.7% in London, after reporting a 10% increase in first-half profit despite what it termed "difficult markets."

    European Stocks Skid 3.4%; Biggest Drop in 15 Months

  • Throughout the questioning, Mr. Moreno, 43, adhered to his testimony, expressing shock that the woman had leveled charges of rape against him despite his best efforts to be supportive during what he described as a "difficult" time for her.

    Prosecutor Grills Accused Cop

  • BLITZER: Right now, President Obama's clearly rethinking his response to what he calls a difficult chapter in America's history.

    CNN Transcript Apr 21, 2009

  • He clearly is now rethinking his response to what he calls a difficult chapter in America's history.

    CNN Transcript Apr 21, 2009

  • David Paterson and his wife faced reporters today in Albany, revealing they both had affairs during what they call a difficult period a few years back.

    CNN Transcript Mar 18, 2008

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