ob·​strep·​er·​ous əb-ˈstre-p(ə-)rəs How to pronounce obstreperous (audio)
: marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous
obstreperous merriment
an obstreperous argument
: stubbornly resistant to control : unruly
obstreperous behavior
an obstreperous child
obstreperously adverb
obstreperousness noun

Did you know?

The handy Latin prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," "against," or "toward," occurs in many Latin and English words. Obstreperous comes from ob- plus strepere, a verb meaning "to make a noise," so someone who is obstreperous can be thought of as literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. The word has been used in English since around the beginning of the 17th century. Strepere has had a limited impact on the English lexicon; in addition to obstreperous it seems only to have contributed strepitous and its synonym strepitant, which mean "characterized or accompanied by much noise"—that is, "noisy." Ob- words, on the other hand, abound, and include such terms as obnoxious, occasion, offend, omit, oppress, and oust.

Choose the Right Synonym for obstreperous

vociferous, clamorous, blatant, strident, boisterous, obstreperous mean so loud or insistent as to compel attention.

vociferous implies a vehement shouting or calling out.

vociferous cries of protest and outrage

clamorous may imply insistency as well as vociferousness in demanding or protesting.

clamorous demands for prison reforms

blatant implies an offensive bellowing or insensitive loudness.

blatant rock music
a blatant clamor for impeachment

strident suggests harsh and discordant noise.

heard the strident cry of the crow

boisterous suggests a noisiness and turbulence due to high spirits.

a boisterous crowd of party goers

obstreperous suggests unruly and aggressive noisiness and resistance to restraint.

the obstreperous demonstrators were arrested

Examples of obstreperous in a Sentence

a room full of obstreperous children an obstreperous crowd protesting the government's immigration policy
Recent Examples on the Web Rachelle and Matthew had told me that Zac had become obstreperous and even menacing toward them, but Howells mentioned several incidents of physical aggression. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 The patience that administrators initially displayed toward their most obstreperous students ran out when the antisocial campus bacchanalia, and their tolerance thereof, did reputational damage to their host institutions. Noah Rothman, National Review, 2 Jan. 2024 The Sun has become increasingly obstreperous lately, and the results here on Earth have been nothing short of dazzling – but also disruptive. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2023 The Boston Tea Party also symbolizes something obstreperous in the American character. The Editors, National Review, 16 Dec. 2023 Those old enough to have encountered the waxy brown goop may have even undertaken the ritual of removing the obstreperous material from cars made from the 1970s through 1990s. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 6 Nov. 2023 And anyway, subverting an election is hardly the act of an obstreperous child. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 8 Aug. 2023 That’s bad news for the country’s democratic future, but NATO allies can hope Mr. Erdoğan will be less obstreperous now that he’s held onto power. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 29 May 2023 One or tow of the most obstreperous were summarily ejected by the sergeant-at-arms, who, flushed with official pride, strode up and down the aisles, stopping once in a while to bring to time some youngster who showed signs of becoming too boisterous. San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin obstreperus, from obstrepere to clamor against, from ob- against + strepere to make a noise

First Known Use

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obstreperous was circa 1600


Dictionary Entries Near obstreperous

Cite this Entry

“Obstreperous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstreperous. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ob·​strep·​er·​ous əb-ˈstrep-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce obstreperous (audio)
: noisy and hard to control
obstreperously adverb
obstreperousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on obstreperous

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