Definitions

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

  • adjective Posing a problem; difficult to solve.
  • adjective Open to doubt; debatable.
  • adjective Not settled; unresolved or dubious.
  • noun Something that poses a problem or difficulty.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of the nature of a problem; questionable; uncertain; unsettled; disputable; doubtful.
  • In logic, of the nature of a question, possible or doubtful.

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

  • adjective Having the nature of a problem; not shown in fact; questionable; uncertain; unsettled; doubtful.

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

  • adjective posing a problem; difficult to overcome or solve
  • adjective debatable; open to doubt
  • adjective unresolved or dubious
  • adjective doubtful or uncertain in its outcome
  • noun A problem or difficulty in a particular field of study

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

  • adjective making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
  • adjective open to doubt or debate

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Shortening of problematical, from Late Latin problematicus, from Ancient Greek προβληματικός (problēmatikos), from πρόβλημα (problēma, "outjutting, barrier, problem"), from προβάλλω (proballō, "I throw, place before"), from πρό (pro, "before") + βάλλω (ballō, "I throw, place").

Examples

  • This is why the modern broken world only sees the problematic: the ˜problematic™ is that which can be addressed and solved with a technique, e.g., changing a flat tire on an automobile or downloading security software to fix a virus on one's computer.

    Gabriel (-Honoré) Marcel

  • But a second aspect of “feminism” (I find the term problematic because of this very dichotomy) that seems at least as important is fostering values that challenge that power structure, and which for whatever natural and cultural reasons are loosely (though only loosely) associated with femininity.

    Race v. Gender | Mind on Fire

  • I find the term problematic only in that I think all fiction should be experimental: no fiction writer should rest satisfied that prose fiction has settled into its final and most appropriate form such that only reiterations of the form with fresh "content" is needed.

    The Reading Experience

  • I find the term problematic only in that I think all fiction should be experimental: no fiction writer should rest satisfied that prose fiction has settled into its final and most appropriate form such that only reiterations of the form with fresh "content" is needed.

    The Reading Experience

  • Her concern with the Apple model is that "it now becomes Apple's relationship and Apple's data," which she described as "problematic for us."

    Larry Magid: Should Apple Be the Gatekeeper for Magazine Subscription Data?

  • Her concern with the Apple model is that "it now becomes Apple's relationship and Apple's data," which she described as "problematic for us."

    Larry Magid: Should Apple Be the Gatekeeper for Magazine Subscription Data?

  • But with Apple's service, "it now becomes Apple's relationship and Apple's data," which she described as "problematic for us."

    CNET News.com

  • In Genres of the Credit Economy, I developed a historical argument to show that, in periods in which what I call the problematic of representation became visible, economic, political, and epistemological uncertainty often ensued.

    The Chicago Blog

  • In Genres of the Credit Economy, I developed a historical argument to show that, in periods in which what I call the problematic of representation became visible, economic, political, and epistemological uncertainty often ensued.

    The Chicago Blog

  • In Genres of the Credit Economy, I developed a historical argument to show that, in periods in which what I call the problematic of representation became visible, economic, political, and epistemological uncertainty often ensued.

    The Chicago Blog

Comments

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  • Wm. Safire says this word should not be used, because of its three diferent meanings. What do you think?

    problematic

    December 23, 2009

  • That would rule out about 50% of the OED...

    December 23, 2009