Doing something painfully means doing it in a way that hurts a whole lot, like painfully stubbing your bare toe on the sidewalk when you're showing off on your new skateboard.

If something occurs in a way that causes pain, it happens painfully. This can range from painfully pulling a muscle when you're playing tennis to painfully coughing when you've got a sore throat. You can also use this adverb figuratively, for something that seems exaggerated or extreme: "The novel was painfully overwrought, full of overly dramatic prose" or "My brother is painfully shy."

Definitions of painfully
  1. adverb
    “his ignorance was painfully obvious”
    synonyms: distressingly
  2. adverb
    in or as if in pain
    “she moved painfully forward”
    synonyms: sorely
    see moresee less
    without pain
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week