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 Dictionary entry overview: What does difficulty mean? 

  The noun DIFFICULTY has 4 senses:

1. an effort that is inconvenient
2. a factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result
3. a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome
4. the quality of being difficult

  Familiarity information: DIFFICULTY used as a noun is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 


Sense 1difficulty [BACK TO TOP]


An effort that is inconvenient

Classified under:

Nouns denoting acts or actions


difficulty; trouble

Context examples:

I went to a lot of trouble / he won without any trouble / had difficulty walking / finished the test only with great difficulty

Hypernyms ("difficulty" is a kind of...):

effort; elbow grease; exertion; sweat; travail (use of physical or mental energy; hard work)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "difficulty"):

the devil (something difficult or awkward to do or deal with)

tsuris ((Yiddish) aggravating trouble)

Sense 2difficulty [BACK TO TOP]


A factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents

Context example:

serious difficulties were encountered in obtaining a pure reagent

Hypernyms ("difficulty" is a kind of...):

cognitive factor (something immaterial (as a circumstance or influence) that contributes to producing a result)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "difficulty"):

wrinkle (a minor difficulty)

balk; baulk; check; deterrent; handicap; hinderance; hindrance; impediment (something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress)

snorter (something outstandingly difficult)

booby trap; pitfall (an unforeseen or unexpected or surprising difficulty)

pisser (a very disagreeable difficulty)

kink (a difficulty or flaw in a plan or operation)

killer (a difficulty that is hard to deal with)

facer ((a dated Briticism) a serious difficulty with which one is suddenly faced)

problem; trouble (a source of difficulty)

Sense 3difficulty [BACK TO TOP]


A condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome

Classified under:

Nouns denoting stable states of affairs

Context example:

grappling with financial difficulties

Hypernyms ("difficulty" is a kind of...):

condition; status (a state at a particular time)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "difficulty"):

urinary hesitancy (difficulty in beginning the flow of urine; associated with prostate enlargement in men and with narrowing of the urethral opening in women; may be caused by emotional stress in either men or women)

situation (a complex or critical or unusual difficulty)

job; problem (a state of difficulty that needs to be resolved)

mire (a difficulty or embarrassment that is hard to extricate yourself from)

strain; stress (difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension)

hard time; rough sledding (a difficulty that can be overcome with effort)

fix; hole; jam; kettle of fish; mess; muddle; pickle (informal terms for a difficult situation)

pinch (a painful or straitened circumstance)

rattrap (a difficult entangling situation)

plight; predicament; quandary (a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one)

bitch (an unpleasant difficulty)

wall (a difficult or awkward situation)

Sense 4difficulty [BACK TO TOP]


The quality of being difficult

Classified under:

Nouns denoting attributes of people and objects


difficultness; difficulty

Context example:

they agreed about the difficulty of the climb

Hypernyms ("difficulty" is a kind of...):

quality (an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone)


difficult; hard (not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "difficulty"):

inconvenience; troublesomeness; worriment (a difficulty that causes anxiety)

niceness; subtlety (the quality of being difficult to detect or analyze)

burdensomeness; heaviness; onerousness; oppressiveness (unwelcome burdensome difficulty)

formidability; toughness (impressive difficulty)

hardness; ruggedness (the quality of being difficult to do)

asperity; grimness; hardship; rigor; rigorousness; rigour; rigourousness; severeness; severity (something hard to endure)

effortfulness (the quality of requiring deliberate effort)


ease (freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"Think before you speak." (English proverb)

"The world will not find rest by just saying «peace.»" (Afghanistan proverb)

"Thought he was a great catch, turns out he is a shackle." (Arabic proverb)

"He who kills with bullets will die by bullets." (Corsican proverb)

 DIFFICULTY: related words searches 

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