Definition of difficult in English:



  • 1Needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand.

    ‘she had a difficult decision to make’
    ‘the questions are too difficult for the children’
    • ‘It was difficult for his cowered staff to stand up to this overbearing behaviour.’
    • ‘It is as difficult for us to understand adolescents as it is for them to understand us.’
    • ‘The behaviour of children with autism can be difficult for other people to understand.’
    • ‘It was not difficult for me to step up, but I had to show a lot more concentration.’
    • ‘Another makes it very difficult for a woman to keep her children if she remarries after a divorce.’
    • ‘We all acknowledged the fact that this decision is very difficult for you to understand.’
    • ‘He added he feared it might prove difficult for the staff losing their jobs to find new work in this area.’
    • ‘It is as difficult for the very civilized man to understand its charm as it is to deny its existence.’
    • ‘There was a spell when it was difficult for me to choose between certain players.’
    • ‘It said passive smoking not only killed but also made it more difficult for smokers to quit.’
    • ‘That might be difficult for those schools which only allocate an hour for the subject.’
    • ‘Without such a basis, it will be difficult for either party to gain much from a consultation.’
    • ‘It can also be difficult for them to speak to friends about the emotions they are experiencing.’
    • ‘Why is it so difficult for the present crew to understand where the horse goes in relation to the cart?’
    • ‘It is very difficult for me to disagree with the statement that they deplore it.’
    • ‘But with the boundaries as they are it is going to be very difficult for anyone to win.’
    • ‘These structures made it difficult for investors and advisers to pick the best deal.’
    • ‘He is better than he was, but it was difficult for him to even make it here, and he only lives a couple of miles away.’
    • ‘As a woman on the stairs said, it must make it doubly difficult for the conductor.’
    • ‘The game is so quick that it is very difficult for them to see everything and to get every decision right.’
    hard, strenuous, arduous, laborious, heavy, tough, onerous, burdensome, demanding, punishing, gruelling, grinding, back-breaking, painful
    problematic, hard, puzzling, baffling, perplexing, confusing, mystifying, mysterious
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    1. 1.1 Characterized by or causing hardships or problems.
      ‘a difficult economic climate’
      • ‘The family are finding it a bit difficult at the moment as you can imagine.’
      • ‘The whole situation is made more difficult by the complexity of the cost equations.’
      • ‘Doesn't the fact that his father died in an automobile accident make it difficult for him?’
      • ‘Doctors are a dedicated lot, mostly doing a superb job under difficult circumstances.’
      • ‘But my being away does make things difficult for the family because I work for my father.’
      • ‘It is tempting to pretend that the last few days have been dark and difficult for Britain.’
      • ‘Apparently, her puss Fang soon tires of any particular flavor and makes life difficult at meal times.’
      • ‘It makes life so difficult for disabled people, it's just not right.’
      • ‘The past two years have been a particularly difficult time for the people working there.’
      • ‘The bereaved should not have to be faced with such problems at what is already a very difficult time.’
      • ‘Disabled shoppers claim a new supermarket car park is making life difficult for them.’
      • ‘Your uncompromising honesty and painfully truthful criticisms can make life difficult at times.’
      • ‘I know this has been a very difficult and stressful time for the family and for staff involved.’
      • ‘The snow and ice which had made life difficult for the past eight weeks was finally on the retreat.’
      • ‘I was also a union steward at that time involved in long and difficult negotiations.’
      • ‘The State of Oregon is looking hard to save where it can in this difficult business climate.’
      inconvenient, awkward, unfavourable, unfortunate, inappropriate, unsuitable, untimely, ill-timed, inopportune, inexpedient, disadvantageous
      bad, tough, grim, terrible, awful, dreadful, nightmarish, dark, black, hard, adverse, unpleasant, unwelcome, disagreeable, distressing, harrowing
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    2. 1.2 (of a person) not easy to please or satisfy; awkward.
      ‘Lily could be difficult’
      • ‘He is a difficult person but he has never tried to influence me.’
      • ‘He was apparently a difficult man to deal with but always Burnley through and through.’
      • ‘It's quite a hard thing to say, but my Nan is a very difficult person for me to be around.’
      • ‘I'm not saying my brother is a difficult person but he does have trouble committing to family events.’
      • ‘He has succeeded in showing us that he is a difficult man, but that needed no great mastery.’
      • ‘We all know she is a difficult woman, but not that difficult.’
      • ‘My character in the film had a very difficult father and there was one scene in which she had to stand up to him.’
      troublesome, tiresome, trying, exasperating, demanding, unmanageable, intractable, perverse, contrary, recalcitrant, obstreperous, refractory, fractious
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Late Middle English: back-formation from difficulty.