Find the word definition

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
a difficult choice
▪ It was a very difficult choice for me.
a difficult concept
▪ Difficult concepts can sometimes be explained by diagrams or graphs.
a difficult journey
▪ It was a difficult journey, especially in the winter months.
a difficult problem
▪ Does the team have the skills to tackle these difficult problems?
a difficult/an awkward stage
▪ He was 13 and going through that awkward stage.
a difficult/awkward age (=used mainly about the time when people are teenagers)
▪ 13 – 16 is often a difficult age.
a difficult/awkward position
▪ I was in the difficult position of having to choose between them.
a difficult/complex issue
▪ He was able to grasp complex issues quickly.
a difficult/complex subject (=very complicated)
▪ Immigration is a complex subject.
a difficult/hard/tough decision
▪ In the end I took the difficult decision to retire early.
a difficult/serious dilemma
▪ He was in a serious dilemma because neither option seemed very desirable.
a difficult/unfavourable climate
▪ The economic situation created an unfavourable climate for investment.
an easy/difficult child (=easy or difficult to deal with)
▪ Marcus was a very happy, easy child.
be difficult/hard to judge
▪ The economic results of the reforms are difficult to judge.
be hard/difficult to imagine
▪ It’s hard to imagine the suffering she must have gone through.
difficult circumstances
▪ Many teachers are doing a very good job under difficult circumstances.
difficult, if not impossible (=difficult, and perhaps impossible)
▪ Obtaining funding for the film will be difficult, if not impossible.
▪ The agreement is the result of two years of long and difficult negotiations.
▪ The task of selecting just five candidates is difficult.
difficult/easy to spot
▪ Drug addicts are fairly easy to spot.
▪ Some of the questions in the last section were very difficult.
difficult/hard/easy etc to guess
▪ It’s hard to guess his age because he dyes his hair.
difficult/hard/impossible etc to credit
▪ We found his statement hard to credit.
difficult/impossible to quantify
▪ The damage caused to the tourist industry is difficult to quantify.
difficult/impossible/easy/possible etc to detect
▪ She has had to make the difficult transition from child actor to adult star.
▪ This book will show you how to deal with difficult situations.
easy/difficult/hard etc to follow
▪ The plot is a little difficult to follow.
easy/difficult/simple etc to use
▪ Drop-down menus make the program very easy to use.
face an uncertain/difficult future
▪ The company is facing an uncertain future.
find it hard/easy/difficult etc (to do sth)
▪ Hyperactive children find it difficult to concentrate.
hard/difficult to pin down
▪ The flavour was hard to pin down.
hard/difficult to resist
▪ The temptation to follow them was hard to resist.
hard/difficult to stomach
▪ Rob found Cathy’s attitude hard to stomach.
it is difficult/hard to cope
▪ We were finding it difficult to cope financially.
it is difficult/hard/impossible to exaggerate sth (=used to say that something cannot be made to seem more important etc than it already is)
▪ It is difficult to exaggerate the strength of people’s feelings on this matter.
it is hard/difficult to fault sb/sth
▪ You might not like O'Donnel’s arrogance, but it’s hard to fault what he does on the field.
it is hard/difficult to overestimate sth (=used to emphasize that something is very important)
▪ It is hard to overestimate the effect the war has had on these children.
make sth difficult/easy/possible etc
▪ The use of computers has made it possible for more people to work from home.
make things worse/easier/difficult
▪ Measures to slow down traffic on the main street have actually made things worse.
of a personal/political/difficult etc nature
▪ The support being given is of a practical nature.
▪ Make your windows as difficult to break in to as possible.
▪ Identifying such scars may prove as difficult as linking tsunami deposits unambiguously to impacts.
▪ The problem may not, however, be as difficult as it seems.
▪ To reconstruct his thought and rediscover its movement is as difficult as investigating his secretive life.
▪ It's not as difficult as I thought it would be.
▪ And looking at our own context is as difficult for us as it is for fish to look at water.
▪ Alex's task of dictating the pace was quite as difficult as Michael's of delivering the lines.
▪ It would have been as difficult to discover any resemblance between the two situations as between the appearance of the persons concerned.
▪ Goal conflicts make this socio-economic leap extremely difficult for any individual to absorb.
▪ A composite building of steel plus concrete is extremely difficult to achieve in New York City.
▪ There are grounds for arguing that learning hierarchies like this which are both progressive and universal are extremely difficult to find.
▪ It forces real interest rates into the stratosphere and makes rapid growth extremely difficult.
▪ When we find this extremely difficult, there are a few things we can do to make it easier.
▪ Yet many new entrepreneurs find it extremely difficult to ask anyone for money.
▪ Trading conditions in many countries were extremely difficult last year, but both spirits and beers increased their trading profits.
▪ One note of caution: Work inhibition is extremely difficult to diagnose.
▪ It's easy enough to say this: I know from experience how difficult it is in practice!
▪ He knew how difficult she would find breaking away from the life she had been living.
▪ New parents rarely anticipate just how difficult unequal parenting is on a marriage.
▪ It helps one understand how difficult it is just to eat, to pick things up or to dry your feet.
▪ I understand how difficult it may be for you to dare to dream.
▪ And it occurred to me that I neither knew how many the family owned nor how difficult mine would be to replace.
▪ Ideas of Divine Right were, it is true, becoming increasingly difficult to justify in intellectual terms.
▪ As these examples suggest, it becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle royal and ducal retinues.
▪ Warm, affectionate moments may become less frequent and increasingly difficult to achieve.
▪ And it was true, she was finding breathing increasingly difficult, thanks to the wild commotion in her heart.
▪ And raising hard money became increasingly difficult as the campaign wore on.
▪ As demands crowd in on you it becomes increasingly difficult to keep things in perspective.
▪ Some are now developing exclusively for the IBM-compatible platform, making it increasingly difficult to find software for Apple machines.
▪ It will also be more difficult to bring in relatives and easier to expel immigrants.
▪ They become less effective and even more difficult when a patient suffers a relapse.
▪ When it comes to expanded memory on an 8086 you are correct in thinking that life is a bit more difficult.
▪ This has made our task if anything yet more difficult, punctuated by agonizing debates and times of distrust.
▪ They also made it more difficult for temporary residents or visitors to become permanent residents.
▪ In a world of shifting boundaries, vanishing borders, and proliferating frontiers, security is even more difficult to achieve.
▪ Whilst this is more difficult to remember, it involves less typing.
▪ Compromise, the essence of politics, becomes more difficult after one has staked out a position in public.
▪ I hope to show that the incompetence that is most difficult to correct is tightly coupled with skilfulness.
▪ The most difficult drug shipments to detect are those secreted in the container boxes of commercial ships.
▪ Small, immature goats suffer most; they find moving around in deep snow most difficult and demanding.
▪ She also pronounced the film among the most difficult to use.
▪ He was a most difficult man, and yet she hated him to think so ill of her.
▪ Some of the most difficult diagnostic problems may be caused by the person who functionally elaborates an underlying organic disease.
▪ That, however, though serious, is not the most difficult task to be faced in interpreting these issues.
▪ For many young people this is the most difficult problem that they have ever had to deal with in their lives.
▪ When confronted with a small garden for the first time, its often difficult to know what to do for the best.
▪ There are three characters called James in the New Testament, and it is often difficult to distinguish them in later legend.
▪ In practice, however, the precise boundaries of ministerial responsibility are often difficult to define.
▪ It is often difficult to distinguish the effects of low infections from malnutrition.
▪ Even teenagers, often difficult to entertain, rate it highly.
▪ Membership is gained consciously or unconsciously and it is often difficult to determine the time when a person becomes a member.
▪ It was often difficult to persuade able men to accept diplomatic posts in distant capitals.
▪ Finding the rodding arm in an inspection chamber fitted with an interceptor trap is particularly difficult.
▪ Deciding when this occurs is particularly difficult for the therapist.
▪ It also helps them anticipate situations that are particularly difficult.
▪ It was particularly difficult to remove from the corners.
▪ Younger players in particular, as well as less established players, may find it particularly difficult to resist such pressures.
▪ Calculations for transition metal species present particularly difficult problems.
▪ This concept of structure is particularly difficult to grasp because it appears not once but twice.
▪ This is quite difficult to do unless you are sure you want to give up that last feed.
▪ We find it quite difficult to feel sorry for big-firm associates.
▪ Drawing three-dimensional objects is quite difficult, but for computers the task is almost as easy as drawing a two dimensional object.
▪ Wild hare, unfortunately, is quite difficult to find.
▪ It was quite difficult to believe that there could be any animation in them.
▪ Figuring out frontal lobe functions has been quite difficult.
▪ As the original barn was quite difficult to get to, I asked John Pennington if I could use his.
▪ The concept of ideal types remains controversial and quite difficult to grasp.
▪ I thought maybe I was just being selfish, it's so difficult to analyse your emotions.
▪ Why is it so difficult for my son to spend just a few hours a week doing homework?
▪ This does, however, prove so difficult in most cases that it is not recommended.
▪ Especially when the struggle is so difficult, and the behavior so enticing, pleasurable, and meaningful.
▪ The reason given usually was that oral work was so difficult to do.
▪ This results from the fact that it is so difficult to distinguish deterministic chaos from highly random behavior.
▪ That's why it's so difficult!
▪ We are extremely fortunate that such a devastating virus is so difficult to effectively transmit from person to person.
▪ The sticks wouldn't be too difficult to find, not here in the wood, especially after the gale.
▪ It should not be too difficult to improve on that, you might have thought.
▪ Whatever Sandy thinks of what I said, he apparently recognizes that to reverse field now would be too difficult.
▪ It should not be too difficult, she thought, to allow one of those buttons to become undone.
▪ Transportation was too difficult, the number of hours too high.
▪ He's very proud; it's too difficult for him to do anything about it now.
▪ It is very difficult to say.
▪ A.. Certainly if you had to rely on those two sources of income alone you would have a very difficult time.
▪ It is very difficult dealing with fractures and dislocations which have happened on fairly hard rock climbs.
▪ It is very difficult to contemplate going there with all that in one's mind.
▪ It is very difficult to say with certainty what they were at any particular moment.
▪ Arthritis can make movement not only painful but very difficult.
▪ They regulate the interpretation of behaviour and hence make it at least very difficult for evidence to count against them.
▪ Winning new business would be very difficult.
▪ Birkenhead said it was the most difficult decision since the evacuation of the Dardanelles, but that did not help much.
▪ It was the most difficult decision of my life.
▪ Now there's a handbook to help couples deal with making such difficult decisions.
▪ Goodwill can permit effective cooperation for purchasing of secondary care but goodwill is ephemeral when difficult decisions have to be made.
▪ Male speaker A very great man, who contributed to every area of politics and never avoided making difficult decisions.
▪ Paradoxically difficult decisions are more difficult to make in difficult times.
▪ It wouldn't, she promised, be a difficult decision.
▪ In the circumstances the latter was unlikely: he had not done so in May on an infinitely more difficult decision.
▪ The Commission was in a difficult position.
▪ But officials say they are in the difficult position of having to implement a law they do not like.
▪ Marian and Izz had seen Tess moving house with her family, and knew what a difficult position she was in.
▪ Later, they spoke for the first time of the difficult position they found themselves in over the past few days.
▪ The band is also in a difficult position.
▪ The need to target moderate independents has put Dole in a difficult position.
▪ Many girls in difficult positions resisted prostitution, whether formal or informal.
▪ It seems that many people find this a difficult position to adhere to in a serious way.
▪ So without doubt one of the most important and difficult problems in cancer research is that of identifying the other mutations.
▪ During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many studies were undertaken in hopes of solving the difficult problems of animal locomotion.
▪ Making contact with the families in the first instance was the most difficult problem.
▪ That fact poses some difficult problems for those of us trying to make sense of the news we are given.
▪ Differences of opinion are often the most difficult problem to resolve.
▪ Much of the joy typical of Great Groups seems to reflect the profound pleasure humans take in solving difficult problems.
▪ Hers is an honest response to a difficult problem.
▪ Team members may also participate in problem-solving task forces established to work on particularly difficult problems or those that cross team boundaries.
▪ This is perhaps the most difficult question one can answer.
▪ I prefaced it by saying that these were difficult questions which he was at liberty not to answer.
▪ One difficult question is what is the situation if the overseas trust went through a non-qualifying buy-back procedure?
▪ Practice interviewing with a friend who will ask you difficult questions.
▪ The second is the more difficult question.
▪ This is a difficult question but in practice few spreadsheets need more than 1 or 2 MBytes of expanded memory.
▪ But the most effective way of exploring this difficult question is not in abstract, supra-historical terms.
▪ I simply pose these difficult questions.
▪ Ruth and I have lived, and the kids have lived, in an extremely difficult situation.
▪ But he was caught in a difficult situation, coming in at midseason with a losing record.
▪ In response to the difficult situation schools find themselves in, a critical and forward-looking approach to curriculum renewal was developed.
▪ There is time to make the best of a difficult situation.
▪ There are special circumstances, there are politically difficult situations, appeals must be made.
▪ Braun has dealt with difficult situations before.
▪ Increased apprehension in such a difficult situation increased tension. 3.
▪ It is, however, a very difficult task.
▪ It is not a difficult task as long as you first understand the way that your printer works.
▪ The most tedious and difficult task is emptying the pond.
▪ Justo now has the difficult task of having to imprison his own father.
▪ Observers say Secrett faces a difficult task at a time of falling income for the organisation.
▪ And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces.
▪ Now I suppose I shall have the difficult task of telling Donna.
▪ The profit-seeking firm faces the difficult task of searching for the appropriate profit-maximising output and profit margin.
▪ Chapter 3 Volcanic eruptions are difficult things to classify.
▪ The most difficult thing for Brown was defending a policy in public that he opposed in private.
▪ It was surely the most difficult thing in the world to appear sincere when one's heart was breaking.
▪ There are difficult things going on here.
▪ I think colour is one of the most difficult things to use.
▪ The construction of musicals is a difficult thing that few are good at.
▪ Cars seem to be the most difficult thing to purchase on a cash basis.
▪ The most difficult thing afoot is to keep our problem child from blowing it in one fell swoop.
▪ Working through these difficult times is a challenge for all our staff who have maintained their integrity, application and cheerfulness.
▪ No matter how good things are, we cycle into difficult times.
▪ She deserves sympathy in these present difficult times.
▪ At Carville the staff had a difficult time convincing patients of an identity of interest.
▪ Ma Bell's difficult times were matched by the buoyant profits of her seven regional offspring.
▪ Western novels about women had a more difficult time finding a foothold.
▪ And, that even in difficult times, there is compassion.
▪ A.. Certainly if you had to rely on those two sources of income alone you would have a very difficult time.
▪ No matter how good things are, we cycle into difficult times.
▪ The church there is undergoing difficult times and badly needs our prayers.
▪ Moreover, in the difficult times that are coming, you will have to take a full and active part.
▪ Working through these difficult times is a challenge for all our staff who have maintained their integrity, application and cheerfulness.
▪ Adam knows that he and Seth have difficult times in store.
▪ She deserves sympathy in these present difficult times.
▪ I pray that this spirit will pull us through these difficult times.
a bad/difficult/sticky/rough patch
▪ Even when they knew he was going through a bad patch they would continue to deliver dangerous back-passes to him.
▪ Every team goes through a bad patch.
▪ Evode has gone through a sticky patch.
▪ Having hit a bad patch, financially, I decided I must try for some paid work with my knitting machine.
▪ Ruefully, she recalled her pleasure at the way the book, after a difficult patch, had begun to develop.
▪ Sometimes I am a real power pack of efficiency; then I hit a bad patch.
▪ Talk about hitting a bad patch.
▪ The Royal Family is certainly going through a rough patch.
a difficult/hard/good etc one
▪ But what is temperament, and how do we define what is a good one?
▪ I knew there was no sense in trying to do a better one.
▪ Maybe it was a crackpot theory, but it was a good one.
▪ Nevertheless, it was always clear that Schmidt's third term in office would prove a difficult one.
▪ Payno was gleeful, for his idea was a good one.
▪ The belief that hierarchical organizational structure makes for good business is a difficult one to give up.
▪ The Berlin Philharmonic as it exists today may be a happier orchestra, but it is in no way a better one.
▪ Then I became a lead project manager and, I have to say, I was a good one.
bad/difficult/hard etc enough
▪ Even a Patel, probably a Bhatt if I looked hard enough.
▪ It's bad enough trying to fly with unequal line lengths; having an asymmetric kite can be most frustrating!
▪ She identified the problem not as trying too hard to live up to a domestic ideal but as not trying hard enough.
▪ Since the cold war ended in 1988, they have worked hard enough to produce some kind of an economic miracle.
▪ That was going to be difficult enough anyway.
▪ The ties with the past difficult enough to sever already.
▪ This would be bad enough if California prisons were full of nothing but Charles Mansons.
it's difficult/hard to believe (that)
▪ Female speaker It's hard to believe it's happened.
▪ It's hard to believe another child could do such a thing.
▪ It's hard to believe just how dire it is.
▪ It's hard to believe Marie's got a husband.
▪ It's hard to believe now but I actually made do with hooks for a while!
▪ It's hard to believe that he started painting in World War Two and is still painting today.
▪ It's hard to believe, but we're fast approaching the dessert hour.
▪ The ideological points are still there but it's hard to believe that totalitarian regimentation could be so tight.
make life difficult/easier etc
▪ But this arbitrary division of the country has not made life easier for either the North or the South.
▪ Having to adopt the fast-track method made life difficult for all three.
▪ Jim was uninterested in learning the kind of ecclesial footwork that would have made life easier for himself and his parish.
▪ Latecomers, however, do make life difficult - and unnecessarily expensive.
▪ The lack of economic statistics has made life difficult for economists and money managers for the past few weeks.
▪ There's no greater pleasure than handing over money to a local supplier who helps make life easier.
▪ To make life easier in the future, will you be publishing an index?
▪ With the advent of electrics, journey times were to be halves, as well as making life easier for locomotive crews.
miles older/better/too difficult etc
technically possible/difficult/feasible etc
▪ Although it is already technically possible for network administrators to monitor Internet traffic, such tracking has been difficult to do.
▪ Berni came into this world on May 12 at 9: 07 a. m. It was a technically difficult delivery.
▪ FLEXthe name of both the machine and its language-was not technically feasible at the time.
▪ One expert achieved unwanted fame by stating, categorically, that it was no longer technically possible to build modern aircraft out of wood.
▪ Subsequent additions and amendments to software may be technically possible, but inadvisable because of subsequent upgrade issues.
▪ The members thought that it was technically feasible and, under the right conditions, could benefit the region.
▪ There is nothing technically difficult about this; if the computer can look one play ahead it can look 20.
▪ There was no question that a tunnel was technically feasible, but 1 wanted to know what the economics would be.
▪ a difficult job
▪ Campbell has the reputation of being difficult to work with.
▪ Heavy snow will mean difficult driving conditions in some areas.
▪ I'd like to thank the staff for working very hard in these difficult conditions.
▪ It's very difficult to find people who are willing to do the job.
▪ My mother's illness makes it difficult for her to walk.
▪ My wife and I have gone through some difficult times.
▪ Officials say they are in the difficult position of having to implement a law they strongly.
▪ Stop being difficult!
▪ That's a good question, but it's a difficult one to answer.
▪ The insects are so small that they are difficult to see without using a microscope.
▪ The reading exercise was very difficult for most of the children.
▪ Things at home have been very difficult since my father died.
▪ Until now, patients often found it difficult to get information about their rights.
▪ When Darren was a little boy, he was very difficult at times.
▪ According to industry officials, a new breed of digital phone transmits in computer code that is much more difficult to intercept.
▪ Being almost the colour of the rocks, the Harpies are difficult to spot before they move.
▪ Felipe takes me to the coast too but it is a bit difficult now that I can not see.
▪ In its good fortune, Sears may illustrate several keys to thriving in a difficult retail environment.
▪ More difficult would be patients with a deep seated psychological problem which would require more than three months' treatment.
▪ The difficulty with habits is that they are difficult to change.
▪ This is made more difficult by the speed at which new stores are now built.
▪ To be a member of more than two or three real teams at the same time is difficult.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Difficult \Dif"fi*cult\, a. [From Difficulty.]

  1. Hard to do or to make; beset with difficulty; attended with labor, trouble, or pains; not easy; arduous.

    Note: 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.

  2. Hard to manage or to please; not easily wrought upon; austere; stubborn; as, a difficult person.

    Syn: Arduous; painful; crabbed; perplexed; laborious; unaccommodating; troublesome. See Arduous.


Difficult \Dif"fi*cult\, v. t. To render difficult; to impede; to perplex. [R.]
--Sir W. Temple.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1400, apparently a back-formation from difficulty. French has difficile, Latin difficilis. Of persons, "hard to please," from 1580s.

  1. hard, not easy, requiring much effort. v

  2. (context obsolete transitive English) To make difficult; to impede; to perplex.

  1. adj. not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure; "a difficult task"; "nesting places on the cliffs are difficult of access"; "difficult times"; "a difficult child"; "found himself in a difficult situation"; "why is it so hard for you to keep a secret?" [syn: hard] [ant: easy]

  2. requiring much effort and trouble; "the mountain climb was long, steep, and difficult"

Difficult (song)

"Difficult" is the fourth single from French-American recording artist Uffie's debut album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans. The single was produced by Uffie's label-mate and friend SebastiAn and has been released through Ed Banger Records, Because Music and Elektra Records on October 18, 2010. Also included in the release were remixes by SebastiAn and Azari & III.

Usage examples of "difficult".

It is difficult to give any satisfactory explanation of these abnormal developments.

It would be awfully difficult for Gore to catch up to Bush before December 12unless a court disqualified enough Bush overseas absentee votes.

At the edge of the field of vision, the Doppler telemeter and accelerometer spat out their little red numbers so rapidly that it was difficult to read the indicated speed.

By limiting the accessibility of the names and telephone numbers of employees, a company makes it more difficult for the social engineer to identify targets in the company, or names of legitimate employees for use in deceiving other personnel.

Never was an actress found who could replace her, and to find one it would be necessary that she should unite in herself all the perfections which Silvia possessed for the difficult profession of the stage: action, voice, intelligence, wit, countenance, manners, and a deep knowledge of the human heart.

As they moved, their adaptation became refined to areas as difficult as the arctic and the Kalahari.

NSA decided it was administratively too difficult to determine whether particular reports derived from the specific surveillances authorized by the attorney general, NSA decided to place this caveat on all its terrorism-related reports.

She has helped birth many babes, has saved many ailing mothers after difficult births and has never turned anyone away seeking help.

Silverbugs still wandered about aimlessly, clogging the floor, making it difficult to move fast over the already-unsure footing.

He had no feet, it was immensely more difficult for him to fly than for any other airman in the world, but even that did not stir him.

The only way to water the crops was to somehow extract enough moisture from the airsome was available, but difficult to isolate, especially with very small natural temperature changes in the Maracandan atmosphere.

The difficulty of procuring provisions was extreme, and the means he was compelled to employ for that purpose greatly heightened the evil, at the same time insubordination and want of discipline prevailed to such an alarming degree that it would be as difficult as painful to depict the situation of our army at this period, Marmont, by his steady conduct, fortunately succeeded in correcting the disorders which prevailed, and very soon found himself at the head of a well-organised army, amounting to 30,000 infantry, with forty pieces of artillery, but he had only a very small body of cavalry, and those ill-mounted.

White Album difficult because he was on edge, either going up or coming down.

I am assured by good authorities that it is most difficult, or impossible, to know whether chondrin is pure, and if it contained any albuminous compound, this would have produced the above effects.

In spite of his hunger, Alec found it difficult to draw his eyes from the paintings.