[dif-i-kuhl-tee, -kuhl-tee]
noun, plural difficulties.
the fact or condition of being difficult.
Often, difficulties. an embarrassing situation, especially of financial affairs.
a trouble or struggle.
a cause of trouble, struggle, or embarrassment.
a disagreement or dispute.
reluctance; unwillingness.
a demur; objection.
something that is hard to do, understand, or surmount; an impediment or obstacle.

1350–1400; Middle English difficulte (< Anglo-French) < Latin difficultās, equivalent to difficil(is) difficile + -tās -ty2

predifficulty, noun, plural predifficulties.

2. dilemma, predicament, quandary, plight, fix, exigency, strait. 3. problem.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
difficulty (ˈdɪfɪkəltɪ)
n , pl -ties
1.  the state or quality of being difficult
2.  a task, problem, etc, that is hard to deal with
3.  (often plural) a troublesome or embarrassing situation, esp a financial one
4.  a dispute or disagreement
5.  (often plural) an objection or obstacle: he always makes difficulties
6.  a trouble or source of trouble; worry
7.  lack of ease; awkwardness: he could run only with difficulty
[C14: from Latin difficultās, from difficilis difficult, from dis- not + facilis easy, facile]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., from O.Fr. difficulte, from L. difficultatem (nom. difficultus), from difficilis "hard," from dis- "not, away from" + facilis "easy" (see facile).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
One problem with research of this kind is the difficulty involved in controlling potential confounding variables.
The first problem he noticed was a difficulty seeing at night, a common early symptom.
Breathing difficulty involves a sensation of difficult or uncomfortable breathing or a feeling of not getting enough air.
In particular, it works against those who have difficulty getting into university because of socio-economic disadvantage.
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