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These nouns denote something that requires great effort to overcome: grappling with financial difficulties; the hardships endured by the settlers; undergoing the rigors of prison; withstood the vicissitudes of an army career.
dif•fi•cul•ty(ˈdɪf ɪˌkʌl ti, -kəl ti)
n., pl. -ties.
- As easy as buying a pair of solid leather shoes for ten dollars —Anon
- As easy as combing your hair with a broom —Anon
- As easy as doing one thing at a time and never putting off anything till tomorrow that could be done today —Baron Samuel von Puffendorf
- As easy as drawing a picture in water —Anon
- As easy as eating soup with a fork —Anon
- As easy as finding a two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s east side for $400 a month —Anon
This is the sort of topical and location-specific comparison that is adapted to the user’s own locale and economic conditions.
- As easy as getting rid of cockroaches in a New York apartment —Anon
- As easy as making an omelet without eggs —Anon
A simile probably inspired by the proverb “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
- As easy as passing a bull in a close —William Mcllvanney
- As easy as roller skating on a collapsing sidewalk —Anon
- As easy as running with a stitch in your side —Anon
- As easy as trying to paint the wind —Anon
- As easy as shaving with an axe —Anon
- As easy as struggling through a waist-high layer of glue —Anon
- As easy as taking a hair out of milk —Babylonian Talmud
- As easy to ignore as a Salvation Army drum —William Mcllvanney
- As easy to scare Jack Cady [character in novel] as to scare an oak tree —Speer Morgan
- As easy as trying to load a thermometer with beads of quicksilver —Bill Pronzini
- As easy as trying to nail a glob of mercury —Anon
- As easy as trying to open an oyster without a knife —Anon
- As easy as trying to participate in your own funeral —Anon
- As easy as trying to read a book on the deck of a sinking ship —Anon
- As easy as trying to unscramble an egg —Anon
Another proverb that has become familiar is attributed to J. P. Morgan on the dissolution of the trusts in 1905: “You can’t unscramble eggs.”
- As easy as wading in tar —Anon
- As easy as walking on one leg —Anon
- Chasing a dream, a dream no one else can see or understand, like running after a butterfly across an endless meadow, is extremely difficult —W. P. Kinsella
- Controlling the bureaucracy is like nailing Jell-O to the wall —John F. Kennedy
- Dealing with him is like dealing with a porcupine in heat —Anon
The porcupine simile made by an anonymous White House reporter in 1986 referred to deputy chief Richard G. Darmon.
- Demanding as a Dickens novel with a cast of hundreds —Ira Wood
- Difficult as an elephant trying to pick up a pea —H. G. Wells
- Difficult as climbing pinnacles of ice —Elinor Wylie
- Difficult as driving a Daimler at top speed on a slick road —Barry Tuckwell, quoted in article by Barbara Jepson, Wall Street Journal, July 1, 1986
- (Getting the truth in the New York Post has been as) difficult as finding a good hamburger in Albania —Paul Newman, New York Post, October 14, 1986
The actor’s simile referred to the paper’s efforts to prove that he is only 5 foot 8 inches tall.
- Difficult as getting a concession to put a merry-go-round on the front lawn of the White House —Kenneth L. Roberts
As true and timely a simile today as when it originated in the early part of the twentieth century.
- Difficult as making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear —Anon
This can be traced to the German proverb “You cannot make a silk purse of a sow’s ear.” A less well-known French version substitutes velvet for the sow’s ear.
- Difficult as making dreams come true —Anon
- Difficult as putting a bandage on an eel —Anon
- Difficult as to sell a ham to a kosher caterer —Elyse Sommer
- Difficult as sighting a rifle in the dark with rain falling —Peter Greer, “Christian Science Monitor” radio program, December 31, 1985
- Difficult as trying to draw blood from a turnip —French proverb
- Difficult as trying to be old and young at the same time —German proverb
Another proverb that has evolved into simile form, in this instance from “You cannot be old and young at the same time.”
- Difficult as trying to run and sit still at the same time —Scotch proverb
- Difficult … like trying to play the piano with boxing gloves —William H. Hallhan
- Difficult … like swimming upstream in Jell-O —Loren D. Estleman
- Difficult … like trying to grab a hold of Jell-O in quicksand —Philip K. Meyer, Eberstadt Fleming executive quoted in New York Times, July 25, 1986, on estimating an oilfield company’s earnings
- Difficult … like walking a frisky, 220-pound dog —Henry D. Jacoby, on trying to manage crude oil prices in face of changing market conditions, New York Times, January 26, 1986
- Difficult to absorb … like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose —Anon comment, television news program
The comment was a response to Uranus probe, January 22, 1987.
- Difficult to get as trying to get a pearl out of a lockjawed oyster —Robert Vinez, quoted in Wall Street Journal article on consumer campaign to get Ford to put air bags into all cars, July 3, 1986
The difficulty in this instance involved getting the air bag out of Ford.
- (Satiety is as) difficult to stomach as hunger —Stefan Zweig
- Finding a decent, affordable apartment in New York is … like trying to recover a contact lens from a subway platform at rush hour —Michael de Courcy Hinds, New York Times, January 16, 1986
- Getting information from him was like squeezing a third cup from a tea bag —Christopher Buckley
- Hard as building a wall of sand —Marge Piercy
- (It was) hard to do, but quick, like a painful inoculation —Judith Rascoe
- Hard to lift as a dead elephant —Raymond Chandler
- It [to get woman in story to admit feelings for lover] would be rather like breaking rocks —Laurie Colwin
- Laborious as idleness —Louis IV
- Life is not an easy thing to embrace, like trying to hug an elephant —Diane Wakoski
See Also: LIFE
- Lurching up those steep stairs was like climbing through a submarine —Scott Spencer
- Not like making instant coffee —David Brierley
In his novel, Skorpion’s Death, Brierly uses the comparison to describe the difficulty of learning how to fly.
- A process that could be likened to trying to drain a swimming pool with a soda straw —Thomas J. Knudson, on project to reduce flooding of lake in Utah, New York Times, April 11, 1987
- To get a cent out of this woman is like crossing the Red Sea dry-shod —Sholom Aleichem
- Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth —Alan Watts
- Trying to get information out of Joe was like trying to drag a cat by its tail over a rug —F. van Wyck Mason
- Trying to jump-start a business venture over breakfast is like working hard at going to sleep or devoting a year to falling in love —Anon participant at a business networking breakfast, New York Times/Column One, Michael Winerif, February 17, 1987
- Walking [while feeling dizzy] was like a journey up the down escalator —Madison Smart Bell
- With effort, like rising out of deep water —Elizabeth Spencer
(See also PREDICAMENT.)
a hair in the butter An American cowboy expression for a delicate or ticklish situation. The difficulty of picking a single hair out of butter makes this analogy appropriate.
a hard nut to crack A poser, a puzzler, a stumper; a hard question, problem, or undertaking; a difficult person to deal with, a tough cookie; also a tough nut to crack.
You will find Robert Morris a hard nut to crack. (James Payn, The Mystery of Mirbridge, 1888)
hard row to hoe A difficult or uphill task, a long haul, a hard lot, a tough situation; also a long row to hoe. This American expression is an obvious reference to the dispiriting task of hoeing long rows in rocky terrain.
I never opposed Andrew Jackson for the sake of popularity. I knew it was a hard row to hoe, but I stood up to the rack. (David Crockett, An Account of Col Crockett’s Tour to the North and down East, 1835)
have one’s work cut out To be facing a difficult task; about to undertake a demanding responsibility of the sort that will test one’s abilities and resources to the utmost; to have one’s hands full. This common expression is a variation of the earlier cut out work for, meaning simply to prepare work for another, may have a sense that its origins in tailoring; it apparently carried no implications of excessiveness in quantity or difficulty. Perhaps it is the nature of superiors to be exceedingly demanding, or at least for underlings to assume so; in any event, when the expression “changed hands,” so to speak, it took on these added connotations, along with the frequent implication that the person who “has his work cut out for him” has more than he can capably manage.
hold an eel by the tail To try to grasp something slippery and elusive; to try to control an unmanageable situation; to encounter or deal with a deceitful, unreliable person. In use since the early 16th century, this expression exemplifies what any angler knows: holding an eel by the tail is a near impossibility; the squirmy, twisting, slippery creature will wrench itself from the grasp of anyone who attempts the feat.
He may possibly take an eel by the tail in marrying a wife. (Thomas Newte, A Tour in England and Scotland in 1785, 1791)
hot potato A controversial question; an embarrassing situation. This familiar saying is of obvious origin.
The Judge had been distressed when Johnny agreed to take the case, was amazed at first at the way he handled it—hot potato that it was. (Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1961)
The term is often used in the expression drop like a hot potato, meaning to swiftly rid one-self of any unwanted thing or person.
They dropped him like a hot potato when they learned that he had accepted a place on the Republican Committee of the State. (B. P. Moore, Perley’s Reminiscences, 1886)
sticky wicket A difficult predicament; a perilous plight; an awkward situation requiring delicate, cool-headed treatment. This expression, primarily a British colloquialism, alludes to the sport of cricket and describes the tacky condition of the playing field near the wicket ‘goal’ after a rainstorm. Because of the sponginess and sluggishness of the ground, the ball does not roll and bounce as predictably as on a dry field, and the player must therefore adapt to the situation by being exceptionally accurate and careful. The phrase is often used in expressions such as bat on a sticky wicket, be on a sticky wicket.
A difficulty is a problem.
If you have difficulty doing something or have difficulty in doing something, you are unable to do it easily.
Don't say that someone 'has difficulty to do' something.
|Noun||1.||difficulty - an effort that is inconvenient; "I went to a lot of trouble"; "he won without any trouble"; "had difficulty walking"; "finished the test only with great difficulty"|
elbow grease, exertion, effort, travail, sweat - use of physical or mental energy; hard work; "he got an A for effort"; "they managed only with great exertion"
the devil - something difficult or awkward to do or deal with; "it will be the devil to solve"
tsuris - (Yiddish) aggravating trouble; "the frustrating tsuris he subjected himself to"
|2.||difficulty - a factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result; "serious difficulties were encountered in obtaining a pure reagent"|
cognitive factor - something immaterial (as a circumstance or influence) that contributes to producing a result
trouble, problem - a source of difficulty; "one trouble after another delayed the job"; "what's the problem?"
facer - (a dated Briticism) a serious difficulty with which one is suddenly faced
killer - a difficulty that is hard to deal with; "that exam was a real killer"
kink - a difficulty or flaw in a plan or operation; "there are still a few kinks to iron out"
pisser - a very disagreeable difficulty
snorter - something outstandingly difficult; "the problem was a real snorter"
deterrent, hinderance, hindrance, impediment, balk, baulk, handicap, check - something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
wrinkle - a minor difficulty; "they finally have the wrinkles pretty well ironed out"
|3.||difficulty - a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome; "grappling with financial difficulties"|
condition, status - a state at a particular time; "a condition (or state) of disrepair"; "the current status of the arms negotiations"
bitch - an unpleasant difficulty; "this problem is a real bitch"
plight, predicament, quandary - a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one; "finds himself in a most awkward predicament"; "the woeful plight of homeless people"
rattrap - a difficult entangling situation
pinch - a painful or straitened circumstance; "the pinch of the recession"
kettle of fish, fix, jam, mess, muddle, pickle, hole - informal terms for a difficult situation; "he got into a terrible fix"; "he made a muddle of his marriage"
hard time, rough sledding - a difficulty that can be overcome with effort; "we had a hard time getting here"; "analysts predicted rough sledding for handset makers"
strain, stress - difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension; "she endured the stresses and strains of life"; "he presided over the economy during the period of the greatest stress and danger"- R.J.Samuelson
mire - a difficulty or embarrassment that is hard to extricate yourself from; "the country is still trying to climb out of the mire left by its previous president"; "caught in the mire of poverty"
problem, job - a state of difficulty that needs to be resolved; "she and her husband are having problems"; "it is always a job to contact him"; "urban problems such as traffic congestion and smog"
situation - a complex or critical or unusual difficulty; "the dangerous situation developed suddenly"; "that's quite a situation"; "no human situation is simple"
urinary hesitancy - difficulty in beginning the flow of urine; associated with prostate enlargement in men and with narrowing of the urethral opening in women; may be caused by emotional stress in either men or women
wall - a difficult or awkward situation; "his back was to the wall"; "competition was pushing them to the wall"
|4.||difficulty - the quality of being difficult; "they agreed about the difficulty of the climb"|
effortfulness - the quality of requiring deliberate effort
asperity, rigor, rigorousness, rigourousness, severeness, severity, rigour, grimness, hardship - something hard to endure; "the asperity of northern winters"
ruggedness, hardness - the quality of being difficult to do; "he assigned a series of problems of increasing hardness"; "the ruggedness of his exams caused half the class to fail"
subtlety, niceness - the quality of being difficult to detect or analyze; "you had to admire the subtlety of the distinctions he drew"
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
"Difficulties are things that show what men are" [Epictetus Discourses]
"Difficulty gives all things their estimation" [Montaigne Essays]
to have difficulty (in) doing sth → tener dificultades para hacer algo, resultarle difícil a algn hacer algo
he has difficulty (in) walking → tiene dificultades para andar, le resulta difícil andar
I had no difficulty finding the house → no tuve problemas para encontrar la casa, no me resultó difícil encontrar la casa
with difficulty → con dificultad
with great difficulty → con gran dificultad
with the greatest difficulty → a duras penas
to get into difficulty or difficulties [person] (gen) → meterse en problemas or apuros; (while swimming) → empezar a tener problemas; [ship] → empezar a peligrar
to have difficulties with sth → tener problemas con algo
to be in difficulties or difficulty → estar teniendo problemas
they are in financial difficulties → tienen problemas económicos, están pasando dificultades económicas
to make difficulties for sb → crear problemas a algn
see also learning, run into
with difficulty → avec difficulté
He stood up with difficulty → Il se leva avec difficulté.
without difficulty → sans difficulté
to have difficulties with sth → avoir des ennuis avec qch, avoir des problèmes avec qch
to be in difficulty, to be in difficulties (= have problems) → avoir des difficultés, avoir des problèmes
to have difficulty doing sth → avoir du mal à faire qch
difficulty[ˈdɪfɪk/əltɪ] n → difficoltà f inv
he has difficulty in walking/breathing → ha difficoltà a camminare/di respirazione
to have difficulties with (police, landlord) → avere noie con
to get o.s. into difficulty → mettersi nei guai
to be in difficulty or difficulties → essere or trovarsi in difficoltà
to be in (financial) difficulties → avere delle difficoltà economiche