Definition of difficult adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈdɪfɪkəlt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdɪfɪkəlt//
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  1. 1  difficult (for somebody) (to do something) not easy; needing effort or skill to do or to understand a difficult problem/task/exam It's difficult for them to get here much before seven. It's really difficult to read your writing. Your writing is really difficult to read. She finds it very difficult to get up early. Synonymsdifficulthard challenging demanding taxingThese words all describe something that is not easy and requires a lot of effort or skill to do.difficult not easy; needing effort or skill to do or understand:The exam questions were quite difficult. It is difficult for young people to find jobs around here.hard not easy; needing effort or skill to do or understand:I always found languages quite hard at school. It was one of the hardest things I ever did.difficult or hard?Hard is slightly less formal than difficult. It is used particularly in the structure hard to believe/​say/​find/​take, etc., although difficult can also be used in any of these examples.challenging (approving) difficult in an interesting way that tests your ability.demanding difficult to do or deal with and needing a lot of effort, skill or patience:It is a technically demanding piece of music to play.taxing (often used in negative statements) difficult to do and needing a lot of mental or physical effort:This shouldn’t be too taxing for you.Patterns difficult/​hard/​challenging/​demanding/​taxing for somebody difficult/​hard to do something physically difficult/​hard/​challenging/​demanding/​taxing technically difficult/​challenging/​demanding mentally/​intellectually challenging/​demanding/​taxing
  2. 2  full of problems; causing a lot of trouble to be in a difficult position/situation My boss is making life very difficult for me. 13 is a difficult age.
  3. 3  (of people) not easy to please; not helpful synonym awkward a difficult child/customer/boss Don't pay any attention to her—she's just being difficult.
  4. Word Originlate Middle English: back-formation from difficulty.Extra examples Her disability made taking care of the home and raising a family doubly difficult. It is getting more and more difficult to find a job. The fog made driving very difficult. Don’t pay any attention to her—she’s just being difficult. He finds French pronunciation quite difficult. His presence there put me in a very difficult position. I was given the difficult task of informing the girl’s parents of her disappearance. I’d had a difficult time, and needed a break. It can be difficult for young people to find jobs around here. It’s really difficult to read your writing. Roger was always a difficult child. Senior lawyers handle the most difficult cases. The application process is notoriously difficult. The exam questions were quite difficult. The next few months were quite difficult. There was a great deal of difficult terrain to be covered. They had to set up camp in extremely difficult conditions. We didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be. We have training in how to deal with difficult customers. What’s the most difficult personal situation you’ve ever been in?Idioms
    have a (hard/difficult) job doing/to do something
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    to have difficulty doing something You'll have a job convincing them that you're right. He had a hard job to make himself heard.
    make life difficult (for somebody)
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    to cause problems for somebody She does everything she can to make life difficult for him.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: difficult