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Webster 1913 Edition


Difficult

Dif′fi-cult

,
Adj.
[From
Difficulty
.]
1.
Hard to do or to make; beset with difficulty; attended with labor, trouble, or pains; not easy; arduous.
Difficult implies the notion that considerable mental effort or skill is required, or that obstacles are to be overcome which call for sagacity and skill in the agent; as, a difficult task; hard work is not always difficult work; a difficult operation in surgery; a difficult passage in an author.
There is not the strength or courage left me to venture into the wide, strange, and
difficult
world, alone.
Hawthorne.
Syn. – Arduous; painful; crabbed; perplexed; laborious; unaccommodating; troublesome. See
Arduous
.

Dif′fi-cult

,
Verb.
T.
To render difficult; to impede; to perplex.
[R.]
Sir W. Temple.

Webster 1828 Edition


Difficult

DIFFICULT

,
Adj.
[L., easy to be made or done; to make or do.]
1.
Hard to be made, done or performed; not easy; attended with labor and pains; as, our task is difficult. It is difficult to persuade men to abandon vice. It is difficult to ascend a steep hill, or travel a bad road.
2.
Hard to be pleased; not easily wrought upon; not readily yielding; not compliant; unaccommodating; rigid; austere; not easily managed or persuaded; as a difficult man; a person of a difficult temper.
3.
Hard to be ascended as a hill, traveled as a road, or crossed as a river, &c. We say, a difficult ascent; a difficult road; a difficult river to cross; &c.

Definition 2022


difficult

difficult

English

Adjective

difficult (comparative more difficult, superlative most difficult)

  1. Hard, not easy, requiring much effort.
    • Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
      There is not the strength or courage left me to venture into the wide, strange, and difficult world, alone.
    • 2008, Daniel Goleman, Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (ISBN 0307483762), page 199:
      In adults, the same kind of anger has been studied in people trying to solve a very difficult math problem. Though the tough math problem is very frustrating, there is an active attempt to solve the problem and meet the goal.
    • 2013 August 3, Boundary problems”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      Economics is a messy discipline: too fluid to be a science, too rigorous to be an art. Perhaps it is fitting that economists’ most-used metric, gross domestic product (GDP), is a tangle too. [] But as a foundation for analysis it is highly subjective: it rests on difficult decisions about what counts as a territory, what counts as output and how to value it. Indeed, economists are still tweaking it.
  2. (often of a person, or a horse, etc) Hard to manage, uncooperative, troublesome.
    Stop being difficult and eat your broccoli—you know it's good for you.

Usage notes

Difficult implies that considerable mental effort or physical skill is required, or that obstacles are to be overcome which call for sagacity and skill in the doer; as, a difficult task. Thus, "hard" is not always synonymous with difficult: Other examples include a difficult operation in surgery and a difficult passage by an author (that is, a passage which is hard to understand).

Synonyms

Derived terms

Translations

Verb

difficult (third-person singular simple present difficults, present participle difficulting, simple past and past participle difficulted)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To make difficult; to impede; to perplex.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir W. Temple to this entry?)

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: boat · heaven · v. · #800: difficult · top · tone · silent