From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: problemàtic



Borrowed from Middle French problématique, from Late Latin problematicus, from Ancient Greek προβληματικός (problēmatikós), from πρόβλημα (próblēma, outjutting, barrier, problem), from προβάλλω (probállō, I throw, place before), from πρό (pró, before) + βάλλω (bállō, I throw, place). By surface analysis, problem +‎ -atic.



problematic (comparative more problematic, superlative most problematic)

  1. Posing a problem; having or suffering from problem(s):
    1. Difficult to overcome, solve, or decide.
      • 2010, The Future of Energy Use:
        However, estimating what consumers will pay in the future is problematic.
      • 2022 November 30, Paul Bigland, “Destination Oban: a Sunday in Scotland”, in RAIL, number 971, page 79:
        The station is blessed with a cafe and staff accommodation, as it's an important crew changeover point, although this can be problematic when services are late.
    2. Not settled, uncertain, of uncertain outcome; debatable, questionable, open to doubt.
      • 1992, Mary Romero, “Intersection of Biography and History: My Intellectual Journey”, in Maid in the U.S.A., Routledge, →ISBN, →LCCN, page 1:
        The strangeness of hiring undocumented Mexican women as domestics, many of whom were no older than fifteen, seemed strange to me. It was this strangeness that raised the topic of domestic service as a question and made problematic what had previously been taken for granted.
      a problematic analysis
      it portends a problematic future for the movement
    3. (sociology) Contributing (especially if subtly) to discrimination (such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or ageism).
      • 2015 April 10, Paige Tutt, Apple’s new diverse emoji are even more problematic than before: Racialized emoji insert race into texts and tweets where it never would have arisen before[1]:
  2. (logic, dated) Only affirming the possibility that a predicate be actualised.



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


problematic (plural problematics)

  1. A problem or difficulty in a particular field of study.
    • 2006, Matt Wray, Not Quite White, page 141:
      The seemingly intractable problematic of essentialism versus antiessentialism and primordialism versus circumstantialism endemic to identity analysis today.
    • 2012 August 3, John Hurd, Ian J. Kerr, India’s Railway History: A Research Handbook (Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section Two: South Asia; 27), Leiden: Brill, →ISBN, page 1:
      However, for those who come to India’s railway history for the first time, perhaps via knowledge of other countries’ railway histories with which they want to make India-based comparisons or in pursuit of a particular problematic—for example the role of railways in economic development—this chapter may prove useful.




Borrowed from French problématique, Late Latin problematicus. Equivalent to problemă +‎ -atic.



problematic m or n (feminine singular problematică, masculine plural problematici, feminine and neuter plural problematice)

  1. problematic