in·​trac·​ta·​ble | \ (ˌ)in-ˈtrak-tə-bəl How to pronounce intractable (audio) \

Definition of intractable

1 : not easily governed, managed, or directed intractable problems
2 : not easily relieved or cured intractable pain
3 : not easily manipulated or shaped intractable metal

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Other Words from intractable

intractability \ (ˌ)in-​ˌtrak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce intractability (audio) \ noun
intractably \ (ˌ)in-​ˈtrak-​tə-​blē How to pronounce intractably (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of intractable in a Sentence

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 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 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 a patient experiencing intractable pain an intractable child who deliberately does the opposite of whatever he is told
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Recent Examples on the Web Enforcing sidewalk riding laws is still an intractable issue. Mallory Moench,, "Abandoned, peed on by dogs: As SF scooters ramp up, complaints are rare but colorful," 16 Feb. 2020 The island of Ireland border issue has been the most intractable issue in the Brexit negotiations. David Keyton, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Irish border residents worry about future if no-deal Brexit," 9 Oct. 2019 Local business owner Scott Brightwell challenged the idea that Anniston has intractable problems beyond residents’ poor attitudes about the city. al, "Anniston community backing away from splitting city in two," 31 Jan. 2020 Now Trump is banking on his son-in-law to turn what has been an intractable problem for his administration into a success. Author: Josh Dawsey, Nick Miroff, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump demand for pre-election progress on border wall means 800 filings to seize property needed," 26 Nov. 2019 To understand why, look across the Gulf to another intractable conflict, the one between Iran and its Arab neighbours. The Economist, "Making up is hard to do The Gulf states reconsider their feud with Qatar," 18 Dec. 2019 So for a small state operating under severe constraints, mowing the lawn offers an expedient way of coping with an intractable problem. Andrew Bacevich, Twin Cities, "Andrew Bacevich: Why President Trump can’t end ‘endless wars’," 13 Dec. 2019 Secular, liberal Zionism, of which Oz was one of the clearest articulators, has its own set of prescriptions for the world’s problems, its own utopian streak, its own easy solutions to the intractable conflict in the Middle East. Gal Koplewitz, The New Yorker, "Amos Oz and the Politics of the Hebrew Language," 12 Nov. 2019 Trump is not alone in seeing the Middle East as a region of intractable conflict and grievances dating to antiquity. Calvin Woodward,, "President Trump portrays the Mideast as a bloody sandbox where people ‘play’ violently because that’s ‘what they do’," 17 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intractable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intractable

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intractable

Latin intractabilis, from in- + tractabilis tractable

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Time Traveler for intractable

Time Traveler

The first known use of intractable was in 1531

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Statistics for intractable

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intractable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for intractable


How to pronounce intractable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of intractable

: not easily managed, controlled, or solved
: not easily relieved or cured


in·​trac·​ta·​ble | \ (ˈ)in-ˈtrak-tə-bəl How to pronounce intractable (audio) \

Medical Definition of intractable

1 : not easily managed or controlled (as by antibiotics or psychotherapy) an intractable child activity against many intractable Proteus and Pseudomonas species of bacteriaAnnual Report Pfizer
2 : not easily relieved or cured intractable pain intractable bleeding in duodenal ulcerJournal of the American Medical Association

Other Words from intractable

intractability \ (ˌ)in-​ˌtrak-​tə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce intractability (audio) \ noun, plural intractabilities

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