ob·​du·​rate ˈäb-də-rət How to pronounce obdurate (audio)
: stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing
an unrepentant, obdurate sinner
: hardened in feelings
The obdurate enemy was merciless.
: resistant to persuasion or softening influences
obdurate in his determination
remaining obdurate to her husband's advancesEdith Wharton
obdurately adverb
obdurateness noun

Did you know?

When trying to persuade someone who has an obdurate disposition, you may end up feeling rather dour about your ability to change their mind. To endure such encounters in the future, you may find that you need to be more durable and not let their mulishness get you down. Maybe you will find such situations less stressful if you can face them knowing that the words obdurate, dour, endure, and durable are etymological kissing cousins. All trace back to the Latin adjective durus, which means “hard.”

Choose the Right Synonym for obdurate

inflexible, obdurate, adamant mean unwilling to alter a predetermined course or purpose.

inflexible implies rigid adherence or even servile conformity to principle.

inflexible in their demands

obdurate stresses hardness of heart and insensitivity to appeals for mercy or the influence of divine grace.

obdurate in his refusal to grant clemency

adamant implies utter immovability in the face of all temptation or entreaty.

adamant that the work should continue

Examples of obdurate in a Sentence

He is known for his obdurate determination. the obdurate refusal of the crotchety old man to let the neighborhood kids retrieve their stray ball from his backyard
Recent Examples on the Web By the spring of 1945, with Germany defeated, the Allies turned to an obdurate Japan. Peter Englund, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 The camera often pans to the obdurate face of an office clock, showing time frozen but also inexorably passing—the burning fuse of Chow and Su’s relationship. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 1 Sep. 2023 On Tuesday, Torres signed a pledge with a powerful association of some three-hundred eighty thousand military veterans who are notorious for their obdurate conservatism and belligerence. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 19 Aug. 2023 This is a line of chatter that was heavily promoted by the late private equity billionaire Peter G. Peterson, one of the most obdurate enemies of Social Security. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2023 This is, in a way, the same spirit that leads obdurate politicians to try and purge reams of uncomfortable American history from textbooks, leaving students learning — and living — in a state of confusion, with something always out of order, always unexplained. Niela Orr, New York Times, 6 July 2023 Through the perspective of case law, Chammah explains this country’s obdurate commitment to the death penalty, which has found yet another champion, of late, in a president who has raced to execute federal death row inmates in the waning days of his term. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 11 Jan. 2021 Despite the opportunities provided by a long military stalemate, the US did not adequately back UN mediators who sought to concert the considerable leverage of the external actors to haul the obdurate Syrian parties toward a cease-fire and realistic political solution. Stephen R. Weissman, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020 Now, in addition to being the first major showcase of the golf season, the Masters is an example of how inflation, running at nearly 8 percent nationwide through February, is trickling into corners of American life that traditionally tilt toward the economically obdurate. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obdurate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Late Latin obdūrātus, going back to Latin, past participle of obdūrāre "to harden, be persistent, hold out," from ob-, perfective prefix + dūrāre "to harden, hold out, endure" — more at ob-, during

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of obdurate was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near obdurate

Cite this Entry

“Obdurate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obdurate. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ob·​du·​rate ˈäb-d(y)ə-rət How to pronounce obdurate (audio)
: stubbornly continuing to do wrong
: hardened in feelings
: hard to convince or persuade : unyielding
obdurately adverb

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