American English

Definition of painful adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1causing you pain Is your back still painful? a painful death My ankle is still too painful to walk on. He took a painful blow on the shoulder.
  2. 2painful (for somebody) (to do something) painful (doing something) causing you to feel upset or embarrassed a painful experience/memory Their efforts were painful to watch.
  3. 3unpleasant or difficult to do synonym trying Applying for jobs can be a long and painful process. Thesauruspainfulsore raw inflamed infected excruciating burning itchyThese words all describe something that causes you physical pain.painful causing you physical pain Painful can describe a part of the body, an illness, an injury, a treatment, or a death:Is your knee still painful? a series of painful injections a slow and painful deathsore (of a part of the body) painful and often red, especially because of infection or being used too much:a sore throat Their feet were sore after hours of walking.raw (of a part of the body) red and painful, for example because of an infection or because the skin has been damaged:The skin on her heels had been rubbed raw.inflamed (of a part of the body) painful, swollen, and hot because of an infection or injury:If your tonsils become inflamed, you should see a doctor.infected containing harmful bacteria:The wound became infected.excruciating extremely painful Excruciating can describe feelings, treatments, or death but not parts of the body:an excruciating throat/back/knee.burning painful and giving a feeling of being very hot:She felt a burning sensation in her throat.itchy giving an uncomfortable feeling on your skin that makes you want to scratch; having this feeling:an itchy rash I feel itchy all over.Patterns sore/inflamed/itchy eyes raw/inflamed/itchy skin a painful/an excruciating death a painful/burning sensation excruciating/burning pain
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: painful