Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The condition or quality of being difficult: the difficulty of a task.
  • n. Something not easily done, accomplished, comprehended, or solved.
  • n. A troublesome or embarrassing state of affairs, especially of financial affairs. Often used in the plural.
  • n. A laborious effort; a struggle; trouble: had difficulty walking; completed the test with difficulty.
  • n. A disagreement or dispute.
  • n. Reluctance or an objection; unwillingness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being difficult, or hard to do.
  • n. An obstacle that hinders achievement of a goal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The state of being difficult, or hard to do; hardness; arduousness; -- opposed to easiness or facility
  • n. Something difficult; a thing hard to do or to understand; that which occasions labor or perplexity, and requires skill and perseverance to overcome, solve, or achieve; a hard enterprise; an obstacle; an impediment
  • n. A controversy; a falling out; a disagreement; an objection; a cavil.
  • n. Embarrassment of affairs, especially financial affairs; -- usually in the plural.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Want of easiness or facility; hindrance to the doing of something; hardness to be accomplished or overcome; the character or condition of an undertaking which renders its performance laborious or perplexing: opposed to facility: as, a work of labor and difficulty.
  • n. That which is hard to accomplish or to surmount: as, to mistake difficulties for impossibilities.
  • n. Perplexity; complication or embarrassment of affairs, especially of pecuniary affairs; trouble; dilemma; whatever renders action or progress laborious or painful: as, a gentleman in difficulties.
  • n. Objection; cavil; obstruction to belief or consent.
  • n. An embroilment; a serious complication of feeling or opinion; a falling out; a variance or quarrel.
  • n. Synonyms Laboriousness, troublesomeness, arduousness.
  • n. Obstruction, Impediment, etc.(seeobstacle), hindrance.
  • n. Distress, exigency, trial, emergency, pinch.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

Middle English difficulte, from Old French dificulte, from Latin difficultās, from difficilis, difficult : dis-, dis- + facilis, easy; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English difficultee, from Old French difficulté, from Latin difficultas, from difficul, older form of difficilis ("hard to do, difficult"), from dis- + facilis ("easy"); see difficile and difficult. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The main difficulty is that the data obtained from around the world does not belong to them, and obtaining permissions from all and sundry has proven to be an exhausting process.

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • Its main difficulty is that it is not warm or cuddly, unlike God or Oprah. by Gregory Benford and Michael Rose.

    18 Non-Fiction Essays by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

  • Created by a range of leading designers and illustrators, the Perplex City puzzle cards range in difficulty from the fun and easy to the captivatingly complex.

    Boing Boing: February 19, 2006 - February 25, 2006 Archives

  • My main difficulty is the tightness of the plot and my need to inject "Dean-ness" (my sensibilities) into the work.

    notes from the peanut gallery

  • In fact the increase in difficulty is much greater, and even more so at very selective schools, because so many other factors have changed.

    The New College Chaos

  • But the main difficulty is that the great Hindu and Moslem religious communities which play such a vital part in the social and political life of India have not yet been able to compose their differences and to agree on a Constitution which would divide authority equitably between them and protect the rights of minorities.

    The Empire In These Days

  • The major part of the difficulty is the substantial support they need and their drive for personal gain, with both being heavily financially oriented and their total focus.

    Tea Party organizer vows to burn Pelosi and Perriello in effigy

  • COOPER: But I have read some of the dissenting opinions from this 2002 Supreme Court ruling, and they basically said, look, we're leaving this incredibly vague and we're not really telling courts -- lower courts, how to deal with this, because who can -- I mean, the line for determining what they call difficulty controlling your impulses, it's a very shady line.

    CNN Transcript Jun 27, 2003

  • At the same time what he described as the difficulty of keeping Peelism for ever so short a space upon its legs, was as obvious to him as to everybody else.

    The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (of 3) 1809-1859

  • The move by Platts may cause "short term difficulty" in the futures and derivatives markets for swaps and options

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