Top 55 Slang For Difficult – Meaning & Usage

Sometimes finding the right word to describe a challenging situation can be well…difficult. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of slang words for difficult that will help you express your frustrations in a more colorful way. Whether you’re dealing with a tough boss, a challenging assignment, or just a general sense of overwhelm, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide to slang for difficult. Get ready to level up your vocabulary and add some flair to your everyday conversations!

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1. Tough

When something is tough, it means it is difficult or challenging. It implies that the task or situation requires a lot of effort or skill to overcome.

  • For example, “Running a marathon is tough, but with proper training, it can be accomplished.”
  • A person might say, “Studying for this exam is tough, but I’m determined to do well.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult puzzle, someone might comment, “This crossword is tough, I can’t figure out the last clue.”

2. Rough

When something is rough, it means it is difficult, demanding, or unpleasant. It implies that the situation is challenging or not going smoothly.

  • For instance, “The first day on a new job can be rough, as you’re learning the ropes.”
  • A person might say, “Going through a breakup can be rough, but time will heal.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging hike, someone might comment, “The terrain was rough, but the view at the top was worth it.”

3. Hard

When something is hard, it means it is difficult or requires a lot of effort. It implies that the task or situation is not easy to accomplish.

  • For example, “Learning a new language can be hard, but it’s worth the effort.”
  • A person might say, “Writing a research paper can be hard, but with proper planning, it can be done.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult math problem, someone might comment, “This equation is hard, I can’t seem to find the solution.”

4. Tricky

When something is tricky, it means it is complicated or difficult to understand. It implies that the task or situation requires careful consideration or skill to navigate.

  • For instance, “Solving a Rubik’s Cube can be tricky, as there are many possible moves.”
  • A person might say, “Understanding quantum physics can be tricky, but it’s fascinating.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult puzzle, someone might comment, “This riddle is tricky, I can’t figure out the answer.”

5. Sticky

When something is sticky, it means it is difficult or problematic. It implies that the situation is challenging to resolve or has the potential for complications.

  • For example, “Getting out of debt can be sticky, as it requires careful financial planning.”
  • A person might say, “Navigating a complex legal issue can be sticky, but with the right lawyer, it can be managed.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult negotiation, someone might comment, “The contract terms are sticky, we need to find a compromise.”

6. Daunting

Something that is daunting is overwhelming or intimidating, often making one feel discouraged or hesitant to take on a task. It implies a sense of difficulty that may seem insurmountable.

  • For example, a student might say, “The final exam looks daunting, but I’ll study hard and do my best.”
  • A person facing a difficult decision might admit, “The choices ahead of me are daunting, but I know I have to make a decision.”
  • A hiker might describe a challenging trail as “daunting” due to its steep inclines and rugged terrain.

7. Arduous

Something that is arduous requires a great deal of effort, often physically or mentally taxing. It implies a prolonged and difficult task that may be exhausting or draining.

  • For instance, a marathon runner might say, “Running a marathon is an arduous feat, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it.”
  • A person working on a complex project might describe it as “arduous” due to the extensive research and planning required.
  • A parent might refer to the process of raising a child as “arduous” because of the constant care and attention needed.

8. Grueling

Something that is grueling is extremely tiring or demanding, often pushing one’s physical or mental limits. It implies a task or activity that is strenuous and may cause fatigue or discomfort.

  • For example, an athlete might say, “Training for a marathon is grueling, but it builds endurance.”
  • A person working long hours might describe their job as “grueling” due to the demanding workload.
  • A student studying for exams might use the term “grueling” to express the intense and prolonged studying required.

9. Demanding

Something that is demanding requires a great deal of effort, attention, or skill. It implies a task or situation that requires a high level of dedication or competence.

  • For instance, a chef might describe a complex recipe as “demanding” due to the precise measurements and techniques involved.
  • A manager might refer to a high-pressure project as “demanding” because of the tight deadlines and performance expectations.
  • A teacher might use the term “demanding” to describe a rigorous academic program that requires students to excel in multiple subjects.

10. Challenging

Something that is challenging requires effort, skill, or determination to overcome. It implies a task or situation that tests one’s abilities or pushes one out of their comfort zone.

  • For example, a rock climber might say, “Scaling this cliff is challenging, but the view from the top is worth it.”
  • A person learning a new language might describe the process as “challenging” due to the unfamiliar grammar and vocabulary.
  • A team participating in a competitive sport might use the term “challenging” to describe a tough opponent or a difficult game.

11. Complex

This word is used to describe something that is intricate, difficult to understand, or has many parts or factors.

  • For example, “The math problem was too complex for me to solve.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging video game, someone might say, “The boss battle in this game is really complex.”
  • A person might describe a difficult situation by saying, “Navigating the legal system can be complex and confusing.”

12. Laborious

This word refers to something that requires a lot of effort, time, or energy to complete. It implies that the task is tedious or burdensome.

  • For instance, “The process of writing a research paper can be laborious.”
  • Someone might say, “I find cleaning the house to be a laborious task.”
  • A person discussing their job might say, “My work involves a lot of laborious data entry.”

13. Herculean

This word is used to describe a task or challenge that requires great strength, effort, or determination to accomplish. It often implies that the task is monumental or almost impossible.

  • For example, “She tackled the Herculean task of organizing the entire event by herself.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult physical feat, someone might say, “Running a marathon is a Herculean effort.”
  • A person might describe a daunting work project by saying, “The deadline is fast approaching, and we have a Herculean task ahead of us.”

14. Formidable

This word describes something that is difficult to deal with, overcome, or defeat. It implies that the task or challenge is impressive in its difficulty or complexity.

  • For instance, “The opponent’s team has a formidable defense.”
  • Someone might say, “Learning a new language can be a formidable undertaking.”
  • A person might describe a challenging puzzle by saying, “This crossword is particularly formidable.”

15. Testing

This word is used to describe something that is difficult or demanding, often in a way that tests one’s abilities or knowledge.

  • For example, “The final exam was very testing.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult workout, someone might say, “That exercise routine is really testing.”
  • A person might describe a mentally demanding task by saying, “This project is definitely testing my problem-solving skills.”

16. Knotty

This word is used to describe something that is complex or difficult to understand or solve. It can also refer to a situation that is challenging or intricate.

  • For example, “The math problem was really knotty, I couldn’t figure it out.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult puzzle, someone might say, “This crossword is really knotty, I’ve been stuck on it for hours.”
  • A person might describe a complicated relationship as, “Our friendship has become knotty, with lots of unresolved issues.”

17. Rigorous

This term is used to describe something that requires a lot of effort, precision, or strict adherence to rules or standards. It can also refer to a task or activity that is physically or mentally challenging.

  • For instance, “The training program for the marathon was rigorous, with daily long runs.”
  • In a discussion about a strict teacher, someone might say, “Mrs. Johnson’s grading system is rigorous, she expects perfection.”
  • A person might describe a difficult workout as, “The fitness class was really rigorous, I was drenched in sweat by the end.”

18. Strenuous

This word is used to describe something that requires a lot of physical or mental effort, often resulting in exhaustion. It can also refer to a task or activity that is challenging or demanding.

  • For example, “The hike up the mountain was strenuous, I had to take several breaks.”
  • In a discussion about a mentally taxing job, someone might say, “Working in customer service can be really strenuous, dealing with difficult customers all day.”
  • A person might describe a challenging exam as, “The test was incredibly strenuous, I had to study for hours to prepare.”

19. Thorny

This term is used to describe something that is difficult, complicated, or delicate to handle or navigate. It can also refer to a situation that is filled with obstacles or contentious issues.

  • For instance, “The negotiations between the two countries are thorny, with many disagreements.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult decision, someone might say, “It’s a thorny issue, there are pros and cons on both sides.”
  • A person might describe a complex problem as, “The project has many thorny challenges, it’s not easy to solve.”

20. Troublesome

This word is used to describe something that causes trouble, difficulty, or annoyance. It can also refer to a person or situation that is causing problems or complications.

  • For example, “The car has been troublesome, it keeps breaking down.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging student, someone might say, “He’s been really troublesome in class, always disrupting the lesson.”
  • A person might describe a difficult coworker as, “She’s been quite troublesome, always causing drama in the office.”

21. Mind-boggling

This term is used to describe something that is so difficult to understand or comprehend that it boggles the mind.

  • For example, “The math problem was so mind-boggling that even the teacher couldn’t solve it.”
  • A person might say, “The plot twist in that movie was absolutely mind-boggling.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The amount of information in this textbook is mind-boggling!”

22. Like pulling teeth

This phrase is used to describe a task or situation that is extremely difficult or requires a lot of effort.

  • For instance, “Getting my kids to clean their rooms is like pulling teeth.”
  • Someone might say, “Trying to get a straight answer from my boss is like pulling teeth.”
  • Another might complain, “Writing this essay is like pulling teeth!”

23. Ball-buster

This slang term is used to describe something that is particularly difficult or demanding.

  • For example, “Running a marathon is a real ball-buster.”
  • Someone might say, “Working on this project with a tight deadline is a total ball-buster.”
  • Another might exclaim, “Studying for this exam is a real ball-buster!”

24. Murderous

This term is used to describe something that is extremely difficult or challenging, often in a figurative sense.

  • For instance, “The final level of the video game is absolutely murderous.”
  • A person might say, “The hike up that mountain was murderous.”
  • Another might complain, “This crossword puzzle is murderous!”

25. Hellish

This slang term is used to describe something that is extremely difficult or unpleasant, often in a figurative sense.

  • For example, “The traffic during rush hour is hellish.”
  • Someone might say, “The heat in this room is absolutely hellish.”
  • Another might exclaim, “Dealing with my difficult coworker is a hellish experience!”

26. Backbreaking

This term is used to describe a task or activity that requires a lot of physical or mental effort and is very challenging.

  • For example, “Working on a construction site all day is backbreaking.”
  • Someone might say, “Studying for the bar exam was a backbreaking endeavor.”
  • Another person might complain, “Cleaning the entire house by myself is backbreaking work.”

27. Torturous

This word is used to describe a situation or experience that is extremely painful, difficult, or unbearable.

  • For instance, “Running a marathon in extreme heat was torturous.”
  • Someone might say, “Sitting through a long and boring lecture was torturous.”
  • Another person might describe a difficult breakup as “emotionally torturous.”
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28. Eye-watering

This term is used to describe something that is so difficult or shocking that it brings tears to one’s eyes.

  • For example, “The price of that luxury car is eye-watering.”
  • Someone might say, “The amount of work required to finish the project on time is eye-watering.”
  • Another person might exclaim, “The roller coaster ride was so intense, it was eye-watering!”

29. Slog

This word is used to describe a task or activity that requires a lot of effort, perseverance, and hard work.

  • For instance, “Writing a novel is a slog.”
  • Someone might say, “Getting through all the paperwork for a mortgage is a slog.”
  • Another person might complain, “Working on this project feels like a never-ending slog.”

30. Herculean task

This phrase is used to describe a task or activity that requires immense strength, effort, or skill to accomplish.

  • For example, “Cleaning out the entire garage in one day was a Herculean task.”
  • Someone might say, “Completing the marathon was a Herculean task, but I did it.”
  • Another person might describe studying for a difficult exam as a “Herculean task.”

31. Brain-buster

A “brain-buster” refers to a difficult problem or task that requires a lot of mental effort to solve or complete.

  • For example, a math puzzle that requires advanced problem-solving skills might be called a brain-buster.
  • In a game show, the host might say, “Get ready for a real brain-buster!”
  • A student struggling with a complex assignment might say, “This problem is a real brain-buster.”

32. Teeth-gritting

When something is described as “teeth-gritting,” it means it is extremely difficult or frustrating, to the point where it may cause tension or stress.

  • For instance, a challenging task that requires a lot of effort and patience can be teeth-gritting.
  • A person struggling with a difficult video game level might say, “This level is so teeth-gritting!”
  • In a work setting, someone might describe a particularly challenging project as “teeth-gritting.”

33. Bone-chilling

Something that is “bone-chilling” is not only difficult but also terrifying or extremely challenging. The term implies a high level of fear or discomfort.

  • For example, a horror movie that is particularly scary and disturbing can be described as bone-chilling.
  • A person describing a traumatic experience might say, “It was a bone-chilling ordeal.”
  • In a suspenseful novel, a reader might say, “The plot twists in this book are bone-chilling.”

34. Steep learning curve

When something has a “steep learning curve,” it means that it is difficult to learn or understand. The term implies that a lot of effort and time is required to become proficient in the subject or skill.

  • For instance, learning a new programming language can have a steep learning curve.
  • A person struggling to pick up a new hobby might say, “This has a really steep learning curve.”
  • In a job interview, a candidate might discuss a previous role that had a steep learning curve.
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35. Not a walk in the park

When something is described as “not a walk in the park,” it means that it is not easy or simple. The term implies that the task or situation requires a significant amount of effort, skill, or endurance.

  • For example, running a marathon is not a walk in the park.
  • A person describing a challenging project might say, “This is definitely not a walk in the park.”
  • In a conversation about difficult life experiences, someone might say, “Dealing with loss is not a walk in the park.”

36. Sticky wicket

This term is derived from the sport of cricket, where a “sticky wicket” refers to a pitch that is damp and therefore difficult for the batsman to play on. In a broader sense, it is used to describe any challenging or tricky situation.

  • For example, “Dealing with a difficult client can be a sticky wicket.”
  • In a discussion about navigating complex relationships, someone might say, “Sometimes, life throws you a sticky wicket.”
  • A person facing a tough decision might exclaim, “I’m in a real sticky wicket here!”

37. Nerve-racking

This term describes a situation or experience that causes a great amount of stress or anxiety. It suggests that the situation is so intense that it affects one’s nerves.

  • For instance, “Waiting for the exam results was nerve-racking.”
  • A person describing a tense job interview might say, “It was a nerve-racking experience.”
  • Someone recounting a harrowing experience might say, “It was a nerve-racking moment that I’ll never forget.”

38. Hair-raising

This phrase is used to describe a situation or experience that is extremely frightening or thrilling, often to the point of causing one’s hair to stand on end. It implies a sense of danger or excitement.

  • For example, “The roller coaster ride was hair-raising.”
  • A person describing a near-death experience might say, “It was a hair-raising moment.”
  • Someone recounting a thrilling adventure might say, “It was a hair-raising experience that I’ll never forget.”

39. Sweat of one’s brow

This phrase refers to the physical exertion and effort one puts into accomplishing a task or achieving a goal. It suggests that one has worked hard and put in sweat and labor.

  • For instance, “He built his successful business through the sweat of his brow.”
  • A person describing a challenging project might say, “It took the sweat of my brow to complete it.”
  • Someone praising a dedicated worker might say, “They always put in the sweat of their brow.”

40. Hairy

In slang terms, “hairy” is used to describe a situation or experience that is difficult, challenging, or potentially dangerous. It implies a sense of unpredictability or risk.

  • For example, “Driving on icy roads can be hairy.”
  • A person describing a complicated problem might say, “It’s a hairy situation.”
  • Someone recounting a risky adventure might say, “It was a hairy experience that I’ll never forget.”

41. Not a piece of cake

This phrase is used to describe a task or situation that is not easy to accomplish. It implies that the task requires effort and may be complicated.

  • For example, “Learning a new language is not a piece of cake.”
  • Someone might say, “Fixing a car engine is not a piece of cake, especially if you’re not familiar with the mechanics.”
  • In a conversation about a difficult math problem, a student might say, “Solving that equation was not a piece of cake for me.”

42. Pain in the neck

This slang term refers to something or someone that causes frustration or annoyance. It implies that dealing with the situation or person is difficult and unpleasant.

  • For instance, “Dealing with a difficult customer can be a real pain in the neck.”
  • A person might say, “Cleaning up after a party is always a pain in the neck.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging coworker, someone might say, “Working with him can be a pain in the neck.”

43. Mountain to climb

This phrase is used to describe a difficult or demanding task that requires a lot of effort and perseverance to complete. It implies that the task is comparable to climbing a mountain, which is a physically and mentally demanding feat.

  • For example, “Starting a successful business from scratch is a mountain to climb.”
  • Someone might say, “Getting into a top-tier university is a mountain to climb for many students.”
  • In a conversation about overcoming personal obstacles, a person might say, “Losing weight and getting fit was a mountain to climb, but I did it.”

44. A tall order

This phrase is used to describe a request or task that is demanding and may be hard to fulfill. It implies that the request is ambitious or requires a lot of effort to accomplish.

  • For instance, “Completing the project by tomorrow is a tall order.”
  • A person might say, “Finding a unicorn is a tall order, as they are mythical creatures.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging assignment, a student might say, “Writing a 10-page research paper in one night is a tall order.”

45. A hard pill to swallow

This phrase is used to describe information, news, or a situation that is difficult to accept or deal with. It implies that accepting the truth or reality can be emotionally challenging.

  • For example, “Losing a loved one is a hard pill to swallow.”
  • Someone might say, “Receiving a rejection letter from your dream job is a hard pill to swallow.”
  • In a conversation about a disappointing outcome, a person might say, “Not making the team was a hard pill to swallow, but I used it as motivation to improve.”

46. A steep learning curve

This phrase is used to describe a task or subject that is challenging to understand or master. It implies that there is a significant amount of effort and time required to become proficient.

  • For example, someone might say, “Learning to play the violin has a steep learning curve.”
  • In a discussion about coding, a person might comment, “Programming languages like Python have a steep learning curve.”
  • A student might complain, “Chemistry has such a steep learning curve, I don’t understand anything!”

47. A rough road

This phrase is used metaphorically to describe a difficult or challenging situation or experience. It implies that the path ahead is filled with obstacles and hardships.

  • For instance, someone might say, “Starting a new business can be a rough road.”
  • In a conversation about personal growth, a person might share, “Overcoming addiction is a rough road, but it’s worth it.”
  • A traveler might describe their adventure, “Backpacking through remote areas can be a rough road, but the experiences are unforgettable.”

48. A bumpy ride

Similar to “a rough road,” this phrase is used metaphorically to describe a difficult or challenging experience. It implies that there are obstacles and setbacks along the way, making the journey uncomfortable or unpredictable.

  • For example, someone might say, “Navigating the ups and downs of a new relationship can be a bumpy ride.”
  • In a discussion about career paths, a person might comment, “The road to success is often a bumpy ride with many obstacles.”
  • A parent might describe raising a child, “Parenting is definitely a bumpy ride, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”

49. A challenging endeavor

This phrase is used to describe a task or project that requires significant effort, skill, or determination. It implies that the endeavor is not easy and may present various obstacles or complexities.

  • For instance, someone might say, “Starting a business is a challenging endeavor.”
  • In a conversation about personal goals, a person might share, “Running a marathon is a challenging endeavor, but it’s a great accomplishment.”
  • A student might describe their academic workload, “Balancing multiple classes and extracurricular activities is a challenging endeavor.”

50. A struggle

This phrase is used to describe a task or situation that is difficult, demanding, or causing frustration. It implies that there is a significant amount of effort or difficulty involved in completing or overcoming the task.

  • For example, someone might say, “Finding a job in this competitive market is a struggle.”
  • In a discussion about weight loss, a person might comment, “Sticking to a healthy diet can be a struggle, especially when faced with tempting treats.”
  • A student might express their frustration, “Understanding advanced calculus is such a struggle for me.”

51. A hard ask

This phrase is often used to describe a task or favor that is challenging or demanding. It implies that the request requires a significant amount of effort or resources.

  • For example, “Asking him to work overtime on a Friday evening is a hard ask.”
  • In a discussion about fundraising, someone might say, “Raising $10,000 in one week is definitely a hard ask.”
  • A manager might tell their team, “I know this project is a hard ask, but I believe in your abilities to get it done.”

52. A tough call

This expression is used to describe a decision or choice that is challenging or not easy to make. It implies that there are various factors or considerations that make the decision difficult.

  • For instance, “Deciding between two equally qualified candidates is a tough call.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might say, “Choosing the starting lineup for the championship game is always a tough call.”
  • A person discussing career choices might say, “Deciding between pursuing passion and financial stability can be a tough call.”

53. A hard road to travel

This phrase is used to describe a path or journey that is difficult or filled with obstacles. It implies that the road ahead will require perseverance and effort.

  • For example, “Starting a business from scratch is a hard road to travel.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might say, “Overcoming addiction is a hard road to travel.”
  • A motivational speaker might say, “Achieving your dreams often means taking the hard road to travel, but it’s worth it in the end.”

54. A tough break

This expression is used to describe a situation or event that is unfortunate or unlucky. It implies that someone has encountered a difficult or challenging setback.

  • For instance, “Losing your job right before the holidays is a tough break.”
  • In a discussion about sports, someone might say, “Getting injured right before the playoffs is a tough break for any athlete.”
  • A person consoling a friend might say, “I’m sorry to hear about your breakup. That’s a tough break, but you’ll get through it.”

55. A hard time

This phrase is used to describe a period or experience that is filled with difficulties or challenges. It implies that someone is facing obstacles or struggles.

  • For example, “She’s going through a hard time after the loss of a loved one.”
  • In a discussion about relationships, someone might say, “Dealing with trust issues can give a couple a hard time.”
  • A person reflecting on a difficult period in their life might say, “I’ve had my fair share of hard times, but they’ve made me stronger.”