Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

difficult - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     difficult pronunciation in British English
  1. 1
    not easy to do, deal with, or understand

    Choosing the winner was a difficult task.

    The exam questions were too difficult.

    it is difficult to do something:

    It’s difficult to say what time I will get home.

    Her behaviour became increasingly difficult to understand.

    difficult for:

    Talking to teenagers can be difficult for parents.

    find something difficult (to do):

    Ella finds the children very difficult to cope with.

    make it difficult to do something:

    Her age made it difficult to get another job.

  2. 2
    [usually before noun] difficult conditions or situations cause a lot of problems and make it hard for you to succeed

    She had a difficult childhood.

    helping people who are in difficult circumstances

  3. 3
    someone who is difficult never seems to be happy or satisfied with anything

    Martin was a difficult baby.

  4. 4
    not convenient, or involving a lot of problems

    Evenings are difficult – how about the morning?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play