knotty problem


knotty problem

Meaning | Synonyms

  • difficult or complex problem
  • something hard or complicated to solve
  • a puzzle that is problematic or defies solution

Example Sentences

  1. The accountant always found the end of the tax year to be a knotty problem.
  2. Translating from another language can be a knotty problem for some students.
  3. It is always a knotty problem to understand my boss’s handwriting.
  4. The new Government is faced with a knotty problem to kick start the economy.
  5. Evolution is a knotty problem if you believe in God.
  6. When you are staring out the window and letting your mind go blank, that can actually be when you solve a knotty problem.
  7. She was part of a team that tackled the knotty problem.
  8. Don’t worry! There would be a solution to this knotty problem.
  9. Child care is another knotty problem for working couples.
  10. There are solutions to this discrete, clearly identifiable but knotty problem.
  11. Colleagues from all sides wanted the tangles teased out in this knotty problem.
  12. Untangling environmental factors from social and health factors is a knotty problem.


A knotty problem is something that is baffling, makes huge mental demands to solve, or is incomprehensible in some way.

There is no origin available, but one suggestion would be that it originates from the ‘knotty’ party of a tree. This is where branches have grown out producing a knot and the wood is harder to cut at that point. You can see the dark rings of the knots in unpainted wood surfaces.

Another suggestion would be that something that is knotted is very difficult to unravel. If a piece of yarn, rope, or string gets tangled, it can be very time consuming and frustrating to untangle.

Share your thoughts2 Thoughts

Obviously with a phrase meaning difficult, complicated or problematic the origin is to do with knots in string/ropes etc. A knot in a tree/piece of wood doesn’t pose a ‘knotty’ problem in the normal sense of that phrase.

- Frank August 24, 2023

Well... A gordian knot is a metaphor for a very complicated problem , and the tale of the actual Gordian knot that Alexander unraveled by slicing it with his sword has been common knowledge for centuries. I'm not sure that's the true origin of the idiom, but I reckon it might have something to do with it.

- Alex July 17, 2020

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