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adjective in·trac·ta·ble \(ˌ)in-ˈtrak-tə-bəl\

Simple Definition of intractable

  • : not easily managed, controlled, or solved

  • : not easily relieved or cured

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of intractable

  1. 1 :  not easily governed, managed, or directed <intractable problems>

  2. 2 :  not easily manipulated or wrought <intractable metal>

  3. 3 :  not easily relieved or cured <intractable pain>

intractability play \(ˌ)in-ˌtrak-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
intractably play \-blē\ adverb

Examples of intractable in a sentence

  1. Contrary to the idea of black holes sucking everything, even light, into inconceivable nothingness, Hawking proposed that there was one thing that could escape a black hole's intractable grip: thermal radiation … —Bruno Maddox, Discover, September 2006

  2. Sepsis, which is what happens to the body when an infection goes bad, is one of mankind's oldest and most intractable foes. —Leon Jaroff, Time, 24 July 2000

  3. But now anesthesiologists have begun turning to an herb to help treat a deadly and often intractable lung condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people a year. —Eric Nagourney, New York Times, 26 Oct. 1999

  4. a patient experiencing intractable pain

  5. <an intractable child who deliberately does the opposite of whatever he is told>

Origin of intractable

Latin intractabilis, from in- + tractabilis tractable

First Known Use: 1531

Synonym Discussion of intractable

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control. unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior <unruly children>. ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others <ungovernable rage>. intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control <intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump>. refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold <special schools for refractory children>. recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority <acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace>. willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way <a willful disregard for the rights of others>. headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion <a headstrong young cavalry officer>.

Other Metals and Metallurgy Terms

Medical Dictionary


adjective in·trac·ta·ble \(ˈ)in-ˈtrak-tə-bəl\

Medical Definition of intractable

  1. 1:  not easily managed or controlled (as by antibiotics or psychotherapy) <an intractable child> <activity against many intractable Proteus and Pseudomonas species of bacteria—Annual Report Pfizer>

  2. 2:  not easily relieved or cured <intractable pain> <intractable bleeding in duodenal ulcer—Journal of the American Medical Association>

intractability \(ˌ)in-ˌtrak-tə-ˈbil-ət-ē\play noun plural intractabilities

Seen and Heard

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to manage or play awkwardly

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