From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishpainfulpain‧ful /ˈpeɪnfəl/ ●●● W2 adjective 1 HURT/CAUSE PAINif a part of your body is painful, it hurts stiff painful joints Is your arm very painful? The neck becomes swollen and painful to the touch (=hurts when you touch it).2 UPSETmaking you feel very upset, or very difficult and unpleasant for you OPP painlesspainful memories/experience etc He sobbed as he recalled the painful memory. Venice was a painful reminder of her marriage. He and his wife took the painful decision to switch off their son’s life support machine. the long and painful process of growing uppainful to do something It can be painful to leave the house in which you were born.painful for/to The divorce was painful for both of us. Even hearing his name was painful to her.3 HURT/CAUSE PAINcausing physical pain a painful blow on the headexcruciatingly/extremely painful an excruciatingly painful deathpainful to do something He was finding it painful to breathe.4 EMBARRASSEDif someone’s behaviour or a performance is painful, it is so bad that it embarrasses peoplepainful to watch/listen to/hear etc It’s painful to watch her making the best of a terrible script. ► Do not use painful to mean ‘feeling pain’: He didn’t feel much pain (NOT feel very painful) at first.COLLOCATIONS – Meaning 2: making you feel very upset, or very difficult and unpleasant for younounsa painful memoryThe photograph brought back painful memories.a painful experienceIt must have been a painful experience for you.a painful processIt was just part of the painful process of growing up.a painful time/periodThe US is in for a painful period of adjustment.a painful decisionI made the painful decision to move far away from my family.a painful reminderThe violence is a painful reminder that many issues have not yet been resolved.the painful truthWe won’t be able to keep the painful truth from the children.painful feelings/emotionsPatients are encouraged to talk about their painful feelings. THESAURUSwhen a part of your body hurts painful used for describing a part of the body that hurtsHer leg is still painful where she broke it.painful jointsShe was suffering from painful stomach cramps.tender painful when touchedThe skin around the wound is very tender.stiff painful and difficult to moveI’ve got a stiff neck.Her body was stiff from sitting in the car for so long.sore painful as a result of a wound, infection, or too much exercisesore musclesa sore throatThe wound was sore and red.
Examples from the Corpuspainful• The transition from dualism to monism is painful.• It's five years since we separated, but I still find the memories quite painful.• This was very painful, and made me cry aloud.• events from her painful and troubled past• Each year the painful birth of birds brought more seeds, more bones, more wolves into the forest.• The treatment, in the early stages, could be painful, but it could also bring a release from pain.• In her misery, Aileen remembered with painful clarity when she'd first met Mac.• a slow painful death• That means food aid, and it means more painful diplomacy in the search for peace.• For those involved, the scandal has been a very painful experience.• More painful in many ways is the appalling loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.• But it can add up to a painful result.• painful shyness• The child suffered painful stomach cramps and vomiting after drinking one of the contaminated drinks.• painful surgery• painful, swollen knee-joints• Colin's death is painful to me and everyone who knew him.• It was so painful to see how frail she had become in just a few months.• His total humiliation was painful to watch.• Jim's knee was still painful where he had fallen on it.painful to the touch• The ankle was already swollen and painful to the touch.• The glands become matted together and very painful to the touch.painful for/to• I closed my eyes-it was too painful to consider.• Now she had trouble getting up and walking, gravity too painful for her.• My throat felt dry, my eyes heavy and painful to move.• Some prophecy should therefore be painful to receive, particularly to the outsider, but by no means all.• The memories were too painful to revisit, but I suspect that similar sorrows bound us unconsciously.• The glands become matted together and very painful to the touch.• Chairman James Unruh said the decision had been painful for Unisys, but that the company saw little choice.• Before it became too painful for you?painful to do something• That experience might be welcomed by some but is painful to a man who once reveled in his fame, friends said.• More painful to hide it inside.• Illiterates find it painful to identify themselves.• He had hurt his right ankle and it was too painful to put to the ground.• When it got more and more painful to put up with him, I quit.• It is a wonderful part of the book, if painful to read.• The glands become matted together and very painful to the touch.• Besides, he'd never expect her to try and escape because he thought her ankle too painful to walk on.