Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.


1. Full of or giving pain: a painful shoulder; painful walking.
a. Causing mental anguish or suffering: It was painful for him to admit he was wrong.
b. Distressing or embarrassing: A painful silence followed his remark.
c. Requiring care and labor; difficult or irksome: a painful way of fixing the problem.
3. Marked by or requiring great care and diligence: gave the matter painful consideration.

pain′ful·ly adv.
pain′ful·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.painfulness - emotional distress; a fundamental feeling that people try to avoid; "the pain of loneliness"
feeling - the experiencing of affective and emotional states; "she had a feeling of euphoria"; "he had terrible feelings of guilt"; "I disliked him and the feeling was mutual"
growing pains - emotional distress arising during adolescence
unpleasantness - the feeling caused by disagreeable stimuli; one pole of a continuum of states of feeling
mental anguish - sustained dull painful emotion
hurt, suffering - feelings of mental or physical pain
distress, hurt, suffering - psychological suffering; "the death of his wife caused him great distress"
2.painfulness - the quality of being painful; "she feared the painfulness of childbirth"
sharpness - the quality of being keenly and painfully felt; "the sharpness of her loss"
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the earth--above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense eyes--were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous.
But even the novelty and painfulness of his going to a Papistical land could no displace for long Mr and Mrs Clare's natural interest in their son's marriage.
Another circumstance which decided him to postpone pursuit of the Arabs was the painfulness of his wound.
'Placed in a mental position of peculiar painfulness, beyond the assuaging reach even of Mrs.
As I walked away, I was full of thoughtfulness; what had been incidentally revealed to me of Captain Ahab, filled me with a certain wild vagueness of painfulness concerning him.
I went from cell to cell that day; and every face I saw, or word I heard, or incident I noted, is present to my mind in all its painfulness. But let me pass them by, for one, more pleasant, glance of a prison on the same plan which I afterwards saw at Pittsburg.
Painfulness and pathological resistance were classified as absent or present.
This distance can never be overcome by man himself; the awareness of this immutable fact is the impulse to acquire a new, a completely new science based on advanced methods and objectives, "whose beginning is the fear of God, giving rise to an incessant tender prayer to God and the observance of evangelical commandments, followed by the reconciliation with God, when fear is transformed into love, and the painfulness of the prayer, turning into sweetness, cultivates the flower of enlightenment, from which, like a fragrance spreading to the one who carries this flower, the cognition of God's mysteries descends.
Determinants of endogenous analgesia magnitude in a diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) paradigm: do conditioning stimulus painfulness, gender and personality variables matter?
In this 'painfulness' a certain 'truthfulness' comes to be as one's own truth emerges.
Yes, in the sense of making the language of poetry an urgent topic, blowing up its painfulness. He addressed in particular four problems.