obstinate

adjective

ob·​sti·​nate ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio)
1
: stubbornly adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
obstinate resistance to change
2
: not easily subdued, remedied, or removed
obstinate fever
obstinately adverb
obstinateness noun

Did you know?

English has no shortage of words to describe stubbornness, and obstinate is one you might want to latch onto. It suggests an unreasonable persistence and is often used negatively to describe someone who is unwilling to change course or to give up a belief or plan. Animals can be obstinate, too—for instance, say, a beloved pet cat that refuses to get out of your easy chair when you want to sit down. Such an example makes a lot of sense with regard to obstinate’s history, too: the word traces back to a combination of the Latin prefix ob-, meaning “in the way,” and a word related to stare, meaning "to stand." But if you’re adamant about describing Whiskers’ stubborn behavior in more faunal terms, allow us to suggest bullheaded, dogged, or mulish.

Choose the Right Synonym for obstinate

obstinate, dogged, stubborn, pertinacious, mulish mean fixed and unyielding in course or purpose.

obstinate implies usually an unreasonable persistence.

an obstinate proponent of conspiracy theories

dogged suggests an admirable often tenacious and unwavering persistence.

pursued the story with dogged perseverance

stubborn implies sturdiness in resisting change which may or may not be admirable.

a person too stubborn to admit error

pertinacious suggests an annoying or irksome persistence.

a pertinacious salesclerk refusing to take no for an answer

mulish implies a thoroughly unreasonable obstinacy.

a mulish determination to have his own way

Examples of obstinate in a Sentence

More than 30 cities had sued the gun industry for the costs of violence on their streets. Cuomo had brashly stepped into the legal swamp, hoping he could be the guy to force concessions from an obstinate industry. Matt Bai, Newsweek, 5 Feb. 2001
With The New York Times calling Klein "a weak nominee" and editorializing that the administration should withdraw him, and with his opponents obstinate and apparently committed, he seemed for a moment to be in serious trouble. John Heilemann, Wired, November 2000
What did they know of life? All they knew was how to parrot the stock phrases of their profession and to continue to be obstinate until somebody, somewhere, paid up. Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 1998
When my father finished telling the story, he looked at me, then looked away. A moment of silence lodged between us, an old and obstinate silence. Bernard Cooper, Harper's, August 1992
his obstinate refusal to obey My parents remain as obstinate as ever.
Recent Examples on the Web Republicans will be obstinate in refusing to pass any bill that might bolster Democrats’ electoral prospects in November. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 28 Feb. 2024 Despite its favorable standing in the new government, the House of Representatives and its allies remain obstinate. Alexander Decina, Foreign Affairs, 29 Apr. 2016 While Australia and the European Union have both supported the idea of putting the fund in the World Bank, neither had been as obstinate as the U.S. on that point, Wu says. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 20 Oct. 2023 Abs can be the most obstinate body part to train, with long and arduous workout routines seemingly yielding little reward compared to other muscle groups. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 21 June 2023 See all Example Sentences for obstinate 

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French obstinat, Latin obstinatus, past participle of obstinare to be resolved, from ob- in the way + -stinare (akin to stare to stand)

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obstinate was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near obstinate

Cite this Entry

“Obstinate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstinate. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

obstinate

adjective
ob·​sti·​nate ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio)
1
: sticking to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
2
: not easily overcome or removed
an obstinate fever
obstinately adverb

Medical Definition

obstinate

adjective
ob·​sti·​nate ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio)
1
: adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
2
: not easily subdued, remedied, or removed
obstinate fever

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