Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Requiring considerable effort or skill; not easy to do or accomplish.
  • adjective Not easy to endure; full of hardship or trouble; trying.
  • adjective Not easy to comprehend, solve, or explain.
  • adjective Not easy to please, satisfy, or manage.
  • adjective Not easy to persuade or convince; stubborn.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make difficult; impede.
  • To perplex; embarrass.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, back-formation from difficulte, difficulty; see difficulty.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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