Definition of difficulty noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈdɪfɪkəlti//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdɪfɪkəlti//
    (pl. difficulties)
    jump to other results
  1. 1  [countable, usually plural, uncountable] a problem; a thing or situation that causes problems the difficulties of English syntax children with severe learning difficulties We’ve run into difficulties/difficulty with the new project. He got into difficulties while swimming and had to be rescued. The bank is in difficulty/difficulties. It was a time fraught with difficulties and frustration.
  2. 2  [uncountable] the state or quality of being hard to do or to understand; the effort that something involves I had considerable difficulty (in) persuading her to leave. I had no difficulty (in) making myself understood. The changes were made with surprisingly little difficulty. He spoke slowly and with great difficulty. We found the house without difficulty. They discussed the difficulty of studying abroad. You cannot say ‘have difficulty to do something’:I had difficulty to persuade her to leave.
  3. 3  [uncountable] how hard something is varying levels of difficulty questions of increasing difficulty
  4. Word Originlate Middle English (in the senses ‘requiring effort or skill’ and ‘something difficult’): from Latin difficultas, from dis- (expressing reversal) + facultas ‘ability, opportunity’.Extra examples Anyone experiencing difficulty with radio reception should call us on the new helpline. Despite all the difficulties, he still remains optimistic. Difficulties arise when people fail to consult their colleagues. English spelling presents special difficulties for foreign learners. I had little difficulty in persuading the others to come. I think we’ve managed to overcome most of the practical difficulties. I’m having difficulty with the engine. Let me know if you have any difficulties. Life in the city was not without its difficulties. Please report any difficulties to the help desk. She had difficulty in starting her car. She is always making difficulties for herself. Some companies are already in difficulty. Some companies are getting into difficulty. The difficulty lies in identifying the precise nature of the problem. The games have various different levels of difficulty. The plan has run into serious difficulties. The situation was fraught with difficulty. This increases the difficulty of the shot. We could see that the swimmer was in difficulties. We crossed the border without any difficulty. We had enormous difficulty in getting hold of the right equipment. Will it cause any difficulties if I go early? children with learning difficulties how to avoid technical difficulties the difficulties inherent in treating overdose patients the difficulty of finding affordable accommodation I had considerable difficulty in persuading her to leave. I had no difficulty making myself understood. The bank is in difficulty at the moment. The project has been fraught with problems/​difficulties from the start. We found the house without difficulty. We’ve run into difficulties with the new project. What should you do if you see someone in difficulties/​difficulty in the water?
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: difficulty