Definitions

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

  • adj. Posing a problem; difficult to solve: a repair that proved more problematic than first expected.
  • adj. Open to doubt; debatable: "if you ever get married, which seems to me extremely problematic” ( Oscar Wilde).
  • adj. Not settled; unresolved or dubious: a problematic future.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. posing a problem; difficult to overcome or solve
  • adj. debatable; open to doubt
  • adj. unresolved or dubious
  • adj. doubtful or uncertain in its outcome
  • n. A problem or difficulty in a particular field of study

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the nature of a problem; not shown in fact; questionable; uncertain; unsettled; doubtful.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of the nature of a problem; questionable; uncertain; unsettled; disputable; doubtful.
  • In logic, of the nature of a question, possible or doubtful.

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

  • adj. making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
  • adj. open to doubt or debate

Etymologies

Shortening of problematical, from Late Latin problematicus, from Ancient Greek προβληματικός (problēmatikos), from πρόβλημα (problēma, "outjutting, barrier, problem"), from προβάλλω (proballō, "I throw, place before"), from πρό (pro, "before") + βάλλω (ballō, "I throw, place"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This is why the modern broken world only sees the problematic: the ˜problematic™ is that which can be addressed and solved with a technique, e.g., changing a flat tire on an automobile or downloading security software to fix a virus on one's computer.

    Gabriel (-Honoré) Marcel

  • But a second aspect of “feminism” (I find the term problematic because of this very dichotomy) that seems at least as important is fostering values that challenge that power structure, and which for whatever natural and cultural reasons are loosely (though only loosely) associated with femininity.

    Race v. Gender | Mind on Fire

  • I find the term problematic only in that I think all fiction should be experimental: no fiction writer should rest satisfied that prose fiction has settled into its final and most appropriate form such that only reiterations of the form with fresh "content" is needed.

    The Reading Experience

  • Her concern with the Apple model is that "it now becomes Apple's relationship and Apple's data," which she described as "problematic for us."

    Larry Magid: Should Apple Be the Gatekeeper for Magazine Subscription Data?

  • But with Apple's service, "it now becomes Apple's relationship and Apple's data," which she described as "problematic for us."

    CNET News.com

  • In Genres of the Credit Economy, I developed a historical argument to show that, in periods in which what I call the problematic of representation became visible, economic, political, and epistemological uncertainty often ensued.

    The Chicago Blog

  • However, far more problematic is that the First Amendment was written in absolute terms because historical exceptions to free speech were generally not seen as federal matters.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » First Amendment Exceptions and History

  • Chris Travers: However, far more problematic is that the First Amendment was written in absolute terms because historical exceptions to free speech were generally not seen as federal matters.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » First Amendment Exceptions and History

  • Allowing such folk to label their cars in this way strikes me as sound policy, and restricting it seems problematic from the viewpoint of the government and the first amendment.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » (Maybe) Racist Vanity Plates and the First Amendment

  • Nonetheless, that wider topic and problematic is nonetheless itself one that is reflected in, e.g., the Geert Wilders set of topics, which is not entirely unrelated to the current topic.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Andrew McCarthy Sticks to His Guns (And He May Be Pointing Them at You Next)

Comments

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  • That would rule out about 50% of the OED...

    December 23, 2009

  • Wm. Safire says this word should not be used, because of its three diferent meanings. What do you think?
    problematic

    December 23, 2009