Meaning of “painful” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"painful" in British English

See all translations

painfuladjective

uk /ˈpeɪn.fəl/ us /ˈpeɪn.fəl/

B1 causing emotional or physical pain:

The old photograph brought back painful memories.
A painful injury forced her to withdraw from the game.

If something is painful to watch or listen to, it is so bad that it makes you feel embarrassed:

It was painful to listen to his pathetic excuses.

More examples

  • an excruciatingly painful injury
  • After a lengthy and painful divorce, she vowed never to remarry.
  • She's already had to endure three painful operations on her leg.
  • The bruising should soon become less painful.
  • The argument had stirred up some painful emotions.

(Definition of “painful” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)