‘Trying Times’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 14, 2023

Have you heard someone say that we’re going through ‘trying times’ and wondered what they meant by it? Below, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin of the phrase and provide some examples of how to use the phrase correctly in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘Trying times’ means difficult or hard times.

Essentially, it means you’re going through a rough time with something, which might be finances, health problems, or family issues.

What Does ‘Trying Times’ Mean?

‘Trying times’ is an expression that people use to express difficult circumstances they might be experiencing at a given time. It’s used to express the hardships someone is facing, which might include hardships like financial struggles, health issues, or family problems.

The expression is one commonly used in American English, and it means annoying or difficult to deal with.

It could be used in an extreme way (such as to describe traumatic events), but it can also be used somewhat lightly.

  • For example, you might hear someone describe going through the COVID-19 pandemic as trying times for all of us.
  • However, you might also hear someone use it dramatically and say that damaging their favorite sweater equates to them going through trying times.

Trying times could mean times of struggle, trouble, or unhappiness.

Where Does ‘Trying Times’ Come From

The phrase ‘trying times’ is made up of the words ‘trying,’ which means annoying, and ‘times,’ which refers to the part of existence that’s measured in minutes, days, years, etc.

Put together, and it means annoying minutes, days, years, etc.

It’s unclear where the phrase was first published or when its first occurrence popped up in the English language.

Examples of ‘Trying Times’ in Sentences 

How would you use ‘trying times’ in a sentence?

Let’s look at some examples:

  • These are trying times we’re living in. I don’t know how we’re going to make it through. It seems like there’s no end in sight to our suffering.
  • My friend’s great-grandmother said that to describe living through The Great Depression as ‘trying times’ is an understatement. She said she went days without eating at some points.
  • Mrs. Kane has been going through trying times lately. Not only is she going through a divorce, but she’s just lost her home because she couldn’t pay the mortgage. I feel so bad for her.
  • It’s no wonder our neighbor, Mr. Jones looks so unkempt. He’s been going through some pretty trying times since he lost his job, and he’s been struggling to keep up with his car payments.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic was a trying time for not only America but for the entire world. It affected everyone differently, but we all struggled to make it through.
  • I realized we’d experienced a lot of trying times together, including losing our house, losing our car, and going through extreme poverty together for years. We’ve weathered the storm and made it out on the other side okay.
  • Even though we’ve gone through some very trying times, I’ve never heard Liz complain even once. She’s such a trouper, and I couldn’t be prouder of her for weathering so many storms.
  • These are trying times. Everyone’s trying to get what they need, and you’re standing there holding up the line. Cut bait or get out of line so the rest of us can get on with our purchases.

Other Ways to Say ‘Trying Times’ 

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘trying times’?

Here are a few examples:

  • Difficult times
  • Tough times
  • Bad times
  • Hard times
  • Bad luck
  • Rough times/rough time
  • Difficulties
  • Disaster
  • Misfortune
  • Adversity
  • Hardship
  • Suffering
  • Affliction
  • Agony
  • Hard going
  • Dark cloud
  • Stormy seas
  • Rough seas
  • Anguish
  • Torture
  • Misery
  • Painfulness
  • Sorrow
  • Discomfort
  • Harsh conditions
  • Inconvenience
  • Hard Luck
  • Bad Luck
  • Tough luck
  • Tragedy
  • Rotten luck
  • Vexation
  • Set back
  • Ordeal
  • Difficult situation
  • Persecution
  • Bad break
  • Tough break
  • Woe
  • Dolor
  • Distress
  • Stressful situation
  • Raw deal
  • Mischance
  • Ill luck
  • Hard cheese
  • Devil’s own luck
  • Blow
  • Reverse

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Trying Times’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Trying times’ means difficult or hard times.

Essentially, it means you’re going through a rough time with something, which might be finances, health problems, or family issues.

If you ever get stuck on the meaning or you’re unsure of how to use this phrase, feel free to come back to review what you learned here. You can also browse our Idioms library to get more familiar with the language. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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