1. affected with, causing, or characterized by pain: a painful wound; a painful night; a painful memory.
  2. laborious; exacting; difficult: a painful life.
  3. Archaic. painstaking; careful.


  1. causing pain; distressinga painful duty
  2. affected with paina painful leg
  3. tedious or difficult
  4. informal extremely bada painful performance

adj.mid-14c., from pain (n.) + -ful. Related: Painfully; painfulness.

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