Definition of difficulty in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The state or condition of being difficult.

    ‘Guy had no difficulty in making friends’
    ‘I managed with difficulty to struggle upright’
    • ‘Europeans often have difficulty in overcoming their initial aversion to this smell.’
    • ‘But the cost and difficulty in getting hold of such items made them the stuff of dreams.’
    • ‘Because of this, there may be some difficulty in giving or receiving affection.’
    • ‘Monet's desire to become a painter was something his father accepted with difficulty.’
    • ‘He eventually manhandled the rock into his goody bag and dragged it with difficulty to the surface.’
    • ‘He was, however, having difficulty in getting a suitable test case to the starting gate.’
    • ‘I have difficulty in walking, so getting to the top of town is virtually impossible.’
    • ‘No wonder we have such difficulty in getting really good candidates to stand.’
    • ‘Nor do we have any difficulty in seeing the alternatives as real alternatives.’
    • ‘That was, by the way and a propos of nothing, one of the few words that I had difficulty in spelling as a child.’
    • ‘They are apt to lead to much difficulty in application because they give rise to much uncertainty.’
    • ‘It's a journey fraught with difficulty, aided by a whole string of people smugglers.’
    • ‘However, there can be difficulty in defining what is actual or physical retirement.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, it is a tragedy that such a splendid player has such difficulty in running.’
    • ‘When he did paint actual places he had no difficulty in ruthlessly leaving out bits he didn't want.’
    • ‘He was also critical over farmers' difficulty in getting licences to move animals.’
    • ‘Trying to pin down a connection between art and morality is fraught with difficulty.’
    • ‘The European court had no difficulty in deciding that it was unfair for that to happen.’
    • ‘The lack of air in a birth chart can indicate difficulty in the expression of that person.’
    • ‘I regarded him as an honest and sensible witness and have no difficulty in believing what he told me.’
    strain, struggling, awkwardness, trouble, toil, labour, laboriousness, strenuousness, arduousness
    complexity, complicatedness, intricacy, perplexity, knottiness, awkwardness
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    1. 1.1[count noun]A thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand.
      ‘there is a practical difficulty’
      ‘a club with financial difficulties’
      • ‘My Lords, there is in any event a considerable conceptual difficulty in a stay of this sort of order.’
      • ‘There has been no disguising the financial difficulties the party has been in since the election.’
      • ‘In addition, some firms encounter difficulties in understanding the new rules of the game.’
      • ‘Of course, there will be short moments where there will be problems and difficulties.’
      • ‘Even the club had difficulties finding a translator at the time of his signing.’
      • ‘It is understood that one of her difficulties related to an arranged marriage.’
      • ‘What do you do when someone comes to you with an emotional difficulty he or she wishes to deal with?’
      • ‘School was very hard for me but doing sports helped me deal with the difficulties of it.’
      • ‘It's the last and only resort for very many people in all sorts of crises and difficulties.’
      • ‘A difficulty in applying the definition is to decide what is a specific cognitive domain.’
      • ‘Many farmers and farm workers are experiencing real financial difficulties, he says.’
      • ‘He had a very hard life and due to difficulties with his family found himself on the streets.’
      • ‘I have the professional experience that allows me to understand his difficulties.’
      • ‘It is like a mindset, and that is the difficulty we have when dealing with cases like this.’
      • ‘The main difficulty in discussing morality is agreeing the meaning of the terms we use.’
      • ‘Its previous owner had bought it from an aircraft museum that got into financial difficulties.’
      • ‘I could understand the difficulties, we had a lot of nationalities in the back four.’
      • ‘A solution to these difficulties is needed to develop a general vision into a practical policy.’
      • ‘If there is any trouble, the team try to deal with it and report back to me any difficulties.’
      • ‘I understand the difficulty and if we don't put it right it has huge implications for staff.’
      problem, complication, issue, disadvantage, snag, hitch, drawback, pitfall, handicap, impediment, hindrance, obstacle, hurdle, stumbling block, obstruction, barrier
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    2. 1.2A situation that is difficult or dangerous.
      ‘they went for a swim but got into difficulties’
      • ‘He claims his daughter got into difficulties while driving on a motorway.’
      • ‘But in London, only 1 per cent of borrowers were in difficulties, following the increase in the capital's property prices.’
      • ‘It is thought one of the men may have fallen in, and then the other went to try to help and also got into difficulties.’
      • ‘He played the first 14 holes in four under par until he ran into difficulties in the hole 15.’
      • ‘He had gone in to save his friend and then got into difficulties himself.’
      • ‘In two separate incidents, two divers got into difficulties in Scapa Flow on Sunday.’
      • ‘Stephen and a colleague were pulled from the blaze by fellow firefighters after they got into difficulties inside the building last night’
      • ‘A dog will get itself out of water so if you do see an animal in difficulties, by all means call the emergency services and wait for help but do not try to be a hero.’
      • ‘Nicky got into difficulties on Sunday afternoon as he was swimming with two friends.’
      • ‘Two other friends got into difficulties in the rescue attempt and had to be pulled to safety.’
      • ‘Publicly available documents reveal one of the companies she owns got into difficulties at the end of 2011.’
      • ‘They had been out together for the day and he was swimming when he got into difficulties.’
      • ‘Their chopper got into difficulties as it came in to land just off the Shetland Islands on Friday evening.’
      • ‘The money will come from a fund set up to deal with credit unions in difficulties.’
      • ‘The recovery project ran into difficulties as the data was saved in an obscure format that modern Amiga emulators could not read.’
      • ‘He had got into difficulties in the Atlantis outdoor swimming pool on Sunday afternoon.’
      • ‘We are also aware of the problems facing the minority of payday lending customers who get into difficulties repaying their loans.’
      • ‘He then ran into difficulties after promoting his movie in Toronto earlier in the week.’
      • ‘Poor visibility and heavy rain did not prevent three jet skiers taking to the water off the Exmouth coast before they got into difficulties.’
      • ‘"We must also avoid putting undue pressure on companies that may be in difficulties."’
      trouble, distress, crisis, hardship
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Late Middle English (in the senses ‘requiring effort or skill’ and ‘something difficult’): from Latin difficultas, from dis- (expressing reversal) + facultas ability, opportunity.