difficulty


difficulty
difficulty, hardship, rigor, vicissitude are synonyms only when they mean something which demands effort and endurance if it is to be overcome or one's end achieved.
Difficulty, the most widely applicable of these terms, applies to any condition, situation, experience, or task which presents a problem extremely hard to solve or which is seemingly beyond one's ability to suffer or surmount; it does not imply insolubility or insurmountability or even intolerableness, but it does suggest the need of skill and perseverance or patience
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the wise gods have put difficulty between man and everything that is worth having— J. R. Lowell

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ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate— Newman

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the simplest way out of the difficulty was to do nothing and dismiss the matter as no concern of theirs— Conrad

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Hardship stresses suffering, toil, or privation that is almost beyond endurance or is extremely hard to bear; it does not necessarily imply any effort to overcome or any patience in enduring
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men to much misery and hardship born— Milton

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the hardships of life in a slum area

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However, it is so frequently applied to the suffering, toil, and privation encountered in an attempt to accomplish an end that it often comes very close to difficulty in its implications
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the search for truth . . . makes men and women content to undergo hardships and to brave perils— Eliot

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they had practically overcome the worst hardships that primitive man had to fear— Cather

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Rigor usually applies to a hardship that is imposed upon one, sometimes by oneself (as through asceticism or ambition) but more often by an austere religion, a tyrannical government or other power, a trying climate, or an extremely exacting enterprise or undertaking
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to undergo much pain, many hardships, and other rigorsBurnet

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the rigors of an explorer's life

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a vast deal of sympathy has been lavished upon the Puritan settlers because of the rigors of their religion— Reppliéf

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a European custom which nowhere survived the rigors of the frontier—W. P. Webb

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the rigors of an arctic winter

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Vicissitude (see also CHANGE n 2/) applies to a difficulty or hardship incident to a way of life especially as it is subjected to extraneous influences, to a career, or to a course of action; it usually suggests reference to something that demands effort and endurance if it is to be overcome
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the fierce vicissitudes of deadly combat— Lecky

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it is the work he performed during these years, often in illness, danger, and vicissitudes, that should earn him particular gratitude from his Church—7\ S. Eliot

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the dwarfing vicissitudes of poverty— Hackett

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Analogous words: *obstacle, impediment, snag, obstruction: *predicament, dilemma, quandary, plight, scrape, fix, jam, pickle: pinch, strait, emergency, exigency, pass (see JUNCTURE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Difficulty — Dif fi*cul*ty, n.; pl. {Difficulties}. [L. difficultas, fr. difficilis difficult; dif = dis + facilis easy: cf. F. difficult[ e]. See {Facile}.] 1. The state of being difficult, or hard to do; hardness; arduousness; opposed to {easiness} or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • difficulty — [dif′i kul΄tē, dif′ikəl΄tē] n. pl. difficulties [ME & OFr difficulte < L difficultas < difficilis, difficult < dis , not + facilis, easy: see FACILE] 1. the condition or fact of being difficult 2. something that is difficult, as a hard… …   English World dictionary

  • difficulty — [n1] problem; situation requiring great effort adversity, arduousness, awkwardness, barricade, check, complication, crisis, crux, dead end, deadlock, deep water*, dilemma, distress, emergency, exigency, fix*, frustration, hardship, hazard,… …   New thesaurus

  • difficulty — late 14c., from O.Fr. difficulté, from L. difficultatem (nom. difficultas) difficulty, distress, poverty, from difficilis hard, from dis not, away from (see DIS (Cf. dis )) + facilis easy (see FACILE (Cf. facile)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • difficulty — index adversity, aggravation (annoyance), bar (obstruction), burden, complex (entanglement) …   Law dictionary

  • difficulty — ► NOUN (pl. difficulties) 1) the state or condition of being difficult. 2) a difficult or dangerous situation or circumstance. ORIGIN Latin difficultas, from facultas ability, opportunity …   English terms dictionary

  • difficulty — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ considerable, enormous, extreme, grave, great, major, real, serious, severe ▪ We had enormous difficulty …   Collocations dictionary

  • difficulty */*/*/ — UK [ˈdɪfɪk(ə)ltɪ] / US [ˈdɪfɪkəltɪ] noun Word forms difficulty : singular difficulty plural difficulties Metaphor: A difficult idea or situation is like a knot or something that is tied up, tangled, or twisted. When you deal with it successfully …   English dictionary

  • difficulty — dif|fi|cul|ty [ dıfıkəlti ] noun *** 1. ) uncount how difficult something is: The courses vary in content and difficulty. 2. ) uncount if you have difficulty with something, you are not able to do it easily: difficulty (in) doing something: Six… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • difficulty — n. 1) to cause, create, make, present difficulties for 2) to come across, encounter, experience, face, meet, run into difficulties 3) to clear up, overcome, resolve, surmount a difficulty 4) (a) grave, great, insurmountable, serious, severe… …   Combinatory dictionary


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