ob·​sti·​nate | \ ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio) \

Definition of obstinate

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

Other Words from obstinate

obstinately adverb
obstinateness noun

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

Did you know?

If you're obstinate, you're just plain stubborn. Obstinate, dogged, stubborn, and mulish all mean that someone is unwilling to change course or give up a belief or plan. Obstinate suggests an unreasonable persistence; it's often a negative word. Dogged implies that someone goes after something without ever tiring or quitting; it can be more positive. Stubborn indicates a resistance to change, which may or may not be admirable. Someone who displays a really unreasonable degree of stubbornness could accurately be described as mulish.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web While many Big Tech companies have fought the right-to-repair movement, opposing dozens of state and federal bills that would force manufacturers to sell necessary repair items to customers, Apple has a reputation for being particularly obstinate. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 18 Nov. 2021 Sadly, many Western politicians and intellectuals remain obstinate. Alexander William Salter, National Review, 22 July 2021 There was nothing stopping the NCAA from working toward a compromise and avoid running afoul of this Supreme Court case; its decision to fight now looks obstinate and misguided. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 21 June 2021 Ed remains obstinate, but the other guys keep them from coming to blows. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 18 Nov. 2020 Many less attractive traits are also recorded: Charles could be uncommunicative and dilatory, evasive and mendacious, refractory, vindictive, obstinate, even outright wicked, though self-delusive about the motives of others. R.j.w. Evans, The New York Review of Books, 27 May 2020 Zelenskiy and Ukraine may be facing a similarly sensitive and obstinate government to the one the country confronted over the 2014 incident. Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2020 Since the first cases here were diagnosed nearly five weeks ago, an obstinate equanimity has prevailed. Arthur Longworth, The New York Review of Books, 12 Apr. 2020 And the obstinate idiosyncrasies of his music were at times judged even more harshly. Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of obstinate

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obstinate

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)

Learn More About obstinate

Time Traveler for obstinate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About obstinate

Dictionary Entries Near obstinate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for obstinate

Cite this Entry

“Obstinate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstinate. Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for obstinate


ob·​sti·​nate | \ ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio) \

Kids Definition of obstinate

1 : sticking stubbornly to an opinion or purpose
2 : difficult to deal with or get rid of an obstinate fever

Other Words from obstinate

obstinately adverb


ob·​sti·​nate | \ ˈäb-stə-nət How to pronounce obstinate (audio) \

Medical Definition of obstinate

1 : adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
2 : not easily subdued, remedied, or removed obstinate fever

More from Merriam-Webster on obstinate

Nglish: Translation of obstinate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obstinate for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!