95 Synonyms for Difficult: List of Difficult Synonyms and Definitions

As writers, it is incredibly important to be able to communicate the same thought or emotion in several different ways—and to do so in a meaningful way.

When an author uses a vague word or is too repetitive in language, it doesn’t help to engage the reader. More often than not, it causes a thin layer of glaze to form around the eyes, as the reader loses focus and becomes increasingly unable to power through the written work.

Unfortunately, we all, at times, fall victim to this while writing, as it’s easy to rely on those words and phrases with which we’re familiar. But, today, I want to provide you with some relief in your search for a more meaningful, powerful way forward.

Difficult Synonyms List

Here are 95 additional words that can be used to communicate “difficult” or “difficulty” in a sentence. Not all of them are completely interchangeable, so be careful not to just copy and paste at random. Some have slightly different meanings or require context that others do not.

Also, this list of synonyms is by no means exhaustive, but it is a good start for those looking for additional ways to say that something is “difficult.”

  1. Abstract: Apart from concrete, practical existence. Difficult to understand.
  2. Abstruse: Difficult to comprehend.
  3. Ambiguous: Open to multiple interpretations; difficult to interpret.
  4. Arduous: Demanding great effort and labor.
  5. synonym for difficult in englishAugean: Requiring so much to complete as to seem impossible. (A reference to the Augean stables cleaned by Hercules as one of his legendary 12 labors.)
  6. Back-breaking: Physically demanding labor; requiring great exertion.
  7. Baffling: Confusingly or perplexingly difficult.
  8. Bewildering: See baffling.
  9. Bruising: Physically wearing and damaging.
  10. Brutal: Unpleasantly difficult.
  11. Burdensome: Causing difficulty or worry; physical or emotional.
  12. Challenging: Difficult in a way that is usually interesting or enjoyable.
  13. Complex: Not easy to understand or explain because of multiple interconnected elements.
  14. Complicated: See complex.
  15. Confusing: Not easy to understand; bewildering.
  16. Convoluted: Intricate; complicated; Difficult to understand.
  17. Cruel: Uncompromisingly difficult without regard for others.
  18. Daunting: Seeming difficult to deal with in anticipation; intimidating.
  19. Demanding: Requiring much effort: physical or mental.
  20. Distressing: Causing emotional difficulty.
  21. Draining: Strenuous work that seeps away life.
  22. Elusive: Hard to fine, capture, or understand.
  23. Exacting: Requiring much time and attention; difficult and demanding.
  24. Exhausting: Difficult in terms or physical or mental exertion.
  25. Fatiguing: See exhausting.
  26. Finicky: Difficult to please.
  27. Formidable: Discouraging as a result of perceived difficulty but oftentimes with a positive connotation.
  28. Fractious: Difficult to control; unruly.
  29. Fraught: Causing great stress or anxiety.
  30. Frustrating: Cause something or someone to be upset or annoyed; prevent from achieving something.
  31. synonyms of difficult english oxford dictionaryFussy: Difficult to please.
  32. Grim: Difficult to consider; depressing or worrying.
  33. Grueling: Physically or mentally demanding to the point of exhaustion.
  34. Hairy: Alarming and difficult; hazardous (informal).
  35. Hard: Difficult to resolve, accomplish, or complete.
  36. Harsh: Extremely difficult.
  37. Heavy: Requiring great effort.
  38. Herculean: Requiring great strength or effort.
  39. Impenetrable: Difficult to penetrate or enter; impervious to reason, argument.
  40. Incomprehensible: Difficult or impossible to understand.
  41. Inflexible: Difficult to change or alter; refusing to change one’s attitude.
  42. Insoluble: Difficult or impossible to solve or explain.
  43. Intimidating: Discouraging as a result of perceived difficulty.
  44. Intricate: Difficult to understand or analyze for having many interconnected elements.
  45. Involved: Complicated; intricate.
  46. Knotty: Difficult to understand or solve.
  47. Laborious: Requiring long hours, hard work.
  48. Labyrinthine: (Of a network, maze, or passageway) difficult to navigate through.
  49. Merciless: See cruel.
  50. Moiling: Hard work; toil.
  51. Murderous: Capable of devastating or overwhelming (informal).
  52. Obstinate: Difficult to manage, control, or treat.
  53. Obtuse: Difficult to understand.
  54. Onerous: Involving an amount of effort that is oppressively burdensome.
  55. Opaque: Difficult as a result of lack of clarity.
  56. Oppressive: Difficult to cope with; causing hardship or distressed spirits.
  57. Painful: Causing physical pain, distress, or harm.
  58. Perplexing: See baffling.
  59. Prickly: Causing trouble of vexation.
  60. Problematic: Posing a problem; difficult to solve.
  61. Prohibitive: Difficult to purchase or use because of high cost.
  62. Punishing: Physically or mentally demanding.
  63. Puzzling: See baffling.
  64. Rigid: See inflexible.
  65. words that are difficult synonymsRigorous: Harsh, severe, or demanding.
  66. Rocky: Difficult and full of obstacles or problems.
  67. Rough: Difficult to endure, live through, travel over.
  68. Rugged: Demanding great effort, ability, and endurance.
  69. Serious: Demanding careful consideration and application.
  70. Severe: Extremely difficult to perform or endure.
  71. Spiny: Difficult to handle.
  72. Sticky: Difficult or awkward (informal).
  73. Stiff: See inflexible.
  74. Strenuous: Requiring great effort, energy, or exertion.
  75. Stressful: Mentally difficult; causing stress.
  76. Stubborn: Difficult to treat or deal with.
  77. Sweaty: Suggestion great physical exertion.
  78. Tall: Unreasonable or difficult (a tall order).
  79. Taxing: Physically or mentally demanding.
  80. synonym of difficult wordsTesting: Difficult to deal with.
  81. Thorny: Causing distress, difficulty, or trouble.
  82. Tiring: Undergo depletion of energy, strength, or interest.
  83. Toilsome: Exhausting labor or effort.
  84. Tortuous: Highly involved; complex.
  85. Tough: Difficult to endure.
  86. Tricky: (Of a situation) Requiring skill because difficult or awkward.
  87. Troublesome: Causing difficulty or annoyance.
  88. Trying: Difficult or annoying; hard to endure.
  89. Unaccommodating: Unhelpful; not in harmony with others.
  90. Unclear: Difficult to see, hear, or understand.
  91. Uncooperative: Difficult to manage or get along with.
  92. Unreasonable: Exceeding reasonable limits.
  93. Uphill: Marked by difficulty and strong resistance.
  94. Vexed: Persistently unresolved; much debated.
  95. Wearing: Causing fatigue; tiring.

Summaryanother word for hard

As I mentioned above, not all of these words are completely interchangeable with “difficult” or with each other. Some require additional context and are very specific.

That said, the list above is a good start for those looking for synonyms for difficult.