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 intractable (audio) \ noun
intractably \ (ˌ)in-​ˈtrak-​tə-​blē How to pronounce intractable (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 That review will say a lot about how his administration wants to deal with North Korea, a seemingly intractable problem whose solution has evaded multiple presidents across decades. NBC News, "Kim Jong Un and North Korea make a splash for Biden with ballistic missiles," 26 Mar. 2021 But O’Malley said Walsh has shown increasing willingness during the course of his two terms to take on these intractable problems, such as the rising sea levels driven by climate change that endanger a coastal city., "In his seven years, Walsh channeled some of energy from strong economy toward pockets of need but a few commitments remain unfulfilled," 22 Mar. 2021 And almost all of the intractable problems that have plagued American foreign policy over the past hundred years have been born of the tensions, paradoxes, and contradictions that accompany this precarious balancing act. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "The Hokey-Pokey Hegemon," 14 Mar. 2021 Quantum computers utilize quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement to solve classes of problems that are intractable to classical computers. Paul Lipman, Forbes, "Welcome To The Future: Navigating The Rich, Intertwined Quantum Software Ecosystem," 11 Mar. 2021 The divisions are regional, ideological, cultural, moral and, some say, intractable. Kumar Yogeeswaran, Scientific American, "The U.S. Needs Tolerance more than Unity," 2 Mar. 2021 For measures like the Equality Act or voting rights, which don’t involve the federal budget at all, the 60-vote hurdle is more intractable. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, "Essential Politics: Limit filibusters or accept defeat? Democrats are inching toward a stark choice," 26 Feb. 2021 That could create a roadblock, as many transcendental equations are intractable; x = cos(x), for example, has no exact solutions. Quanta Magazine, "After Centuries, a Seemingly Simple Math Problem Gets an Exact Solution," 9 Dec. 2020 One of the people who was supposed to help fix intractable problems like this was Dan Kaufman, the director of information innovation at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s storied R&D hub. Arthur Holland Michel, Wired, "There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain," 4 Feb. 2021

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

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Intractable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for intractable



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 intractable (audio) \ noun, plural intractabilities

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