adjective in·trac·ta·ble \ (ˌ)in-ˈtrak-tə-bəl \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of intractable

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


play \(ˌ)in-ˌtrak-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun


play \(ˌ)in-ˈtrak-tə-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 MaddoxDiscoverSeptember 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 JaroffTime24 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 NagourneyNew York Times26 Oct. 1999
  4. a patient experiencing intractable pain

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

Recent Examples of intractable from the Web

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Origin and Etymology of intractable

Latin intractabilis, from in- + tractabilis tractable

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

INTRACTABLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of intractable for English Language Learners

  • : not easily managed, controlled, or solved

  • : not easily relieved or cured

Medical Dictionary


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

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 bacteria
  • Annual Report Pfizer
2 : not easily relieved or cured
  • intractable pain
  • intractable bleeding in duodenal ulcer
  • Journal of the American Medical Association


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

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very hard to disturb or upset

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