If you are facing something that will be difficult to handle, you have a problem on your hands. A problem is a roadblock in a situation, something that sets up a conflict and forces you to find a resolution.

The meaning of the Greek word próblēma meant "to put forth," which is different from the meaning of problem today, but it reminds you that any problem becomes easier to solve once you have defined it. A math problem is easier once you have the numbers in front of you: that's why word problems can be so difficult. Problem can also be an adjective in rare cases. Once you were a problem child, but now you spend your time listening to everyone else's problems.

Definitions of problem

n a question raised for consideration or solution

“our homework consisted of ten problems to solve”
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mystifier, puzzle, puzzler, teaser
a particularly baffling problem that is said to have a correct solution
a problem requiring investigation
homework problem
a problem that students are assigned to do outside of class
brain-teaser, conundrum, enigma, riddle
a difficult problem
poser, sticker, stumper, toughie
a particularly difficult or baffling question or problem
Gordian knot
any very difficult problem; insoluble in its own terms
a paradoxical anecdote or a riddle that has no solution; used in Zen Buddhism to show the inadequacy of logical reasoning
pons asinorum
a problem that severely tests the ability of an inexperienced person
a puzzle where you decode a message consisting of pictures representing syllables and words
a number puzzle in which the numbers 1 through 9 must be placed into a grid of cells so that each row or column contains only one of each number
acrostic, word square
a puzzle where you fill a square grid with words reading the same down as across
Type of:
head, question
the subject matter at issue

n a source of difficulty

“what's the problem?”
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pressure point
where problems or difficulties are likely to occur
can of worms
a source of unpredictable trouble and complexity
deep water
serious trouble
growing pains
problems that arise in enlarging an enterprise (especially in the early stages)
trouble that cannot be overcome by a single effort because of its many aspects or its persistent and pervasive quality
a problem
Type of:
a factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result

n a state of difficulty that needs to be resolved

“she and her husband are having problems
“urban problems such as traffic congestion and smog”
race problem
a social and political problem caused by conflict between races occupying the same or adjacent regions
balance-of-payments problem
an economic problem caused by payments for imports being greater than receipts for exports
Type of:
a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome

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