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Imagine you're reading a book about something you don't understand much, like Latin or organic chemistry. Now imagine the text of the book itself is pretty clear but there are huge Latin quotes/chemistry equation in between sentences, which mean you're always looking for the next bit of text and you have trouble getting in the flow. You could say that this book is a somewhat difficult read, or an awkward read (I think you could say that at least). Could say that this book is an uneasy read? I know this isn't the normal meaning of uneasy, but would it work?

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No, you can't: uneasy does not mean the opposite of easy. According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are two meanings:

  1. Causing or feeling anxiety; troubled or uncomfortable.

  2. (of a situation or relationship) not settled; liable to change.

The first definition does mention causing, but the main use is feeling, so a person might feel uneasy while reading the book, but you would only describe a thing as uneasy if it's obviously something that might cause unease, for example "an uneasy silence". You couldn't really apply it to a book, though.

The meaning itself is not quite right, too: reading a ghost story might make you feel uneasy, but not a maths book. The maths book might, however, be difficult, demanding, or taxing.

difficult: Needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand.
demanding: (of a task) requiring much skill or effort.
taxing: Physically or mentally demanding.

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No, "uneasy" is not a synonym of difficult.

The dictionaries I have checked give definitions related to discomfort or anxiety.

For example, the Oxford Dictionary Online offers

  1. Causing or feeling anxiety; troubled or uncomfortable.

  2. (of a situation or relationship) not settled; liable to change.

As a Southeastern US native speaker, I would understand what you mean, but consider your word choice incorrect.

  • Thanks for the answer, especially for native speaker insight. I knew that it wasn't the obvious sense of the word, but I wasn't sure it was wrong either. Now I know, thanks. – Nico Feb 13 '18 at 15:10
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You can, but it doesn't mean what you want it to mean. An uneasy read is a book that gives you feelings of unease, meaning it makes you feel anxious, uncomfortable, disturbed, or even nauseated.

Reading a book that goes into explicit detail about war crimes, for example, would make most readers uneasy and reluctant to keep reading. On the other hand, most people would not feel the same way reading a textbook, no matter how difficult the subject -- but it's not impossible.

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