Meaning of PROBLEM in English

I. ˈpräbləm sometimes -ˌblem or -_blim; in rapid speech often -b ə m or with syllabic 1 & syllabic m simultaneously articulated noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English probleme, from Middle French, from Latin problema, from Greek problēma projection, protecting wall, excuse, problem, from proballein to throw forward, put forward, from pro- pro- (I) + ballein to throw — more at devil

1. obsolete : a formal public disputation based on a question proposed for academic discussion


a. : a question raised or to be raised for inquiry, consideration, discussion, decision, or solution

mentioned the problems that the speakers would discuss

b. : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something that is to be done

problem : to bisect a line

c. : a constructed position in the game of chess in which a specified result (as a checkmate) is to be accomplished in a specified number of moves


a. : an unsettled matter demanding solution or decision and requiring usually considerable thought or skill for its proper solution or decision : an issue marked by usually considerable difficulty, uncertainty, or doubt with regard to its proper settlement : a perplexing or puzzling question

problems of history — Lewis Mumford

what to do now is a problem

social problems

what happened to them remained a problem

b. : something that is a source of usually considerable difficulty, perplexity, or worry : something that presents a perplexing or vexing situation

there are no more serious problems than these immature people — P.B.Gilliam

Synonyms: see mystery

II. adjective

1. : that treats of or is centered about a problem of human conduct or social relationship

a problem novel

2. : that presents a problem : that is very difficult to deal with : problematic

a problem neighborhood

a good many problem children who were too tough for the other schools in town — Green Peyton

problem behavior

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.