Definition of recalcitrant
1 : obstinately defiant of authority or restraint
2a : difficult to manage or operateb : not responsive to treatmentc : resistant this subject is recalcitrant both to observation and to experiment — G. G. Simpson
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Examples of recalcitrant in a Sentence
But Smith managed to rally and to learn, through trial and error, how to milk what he needed out of an often recalcitrant medical system. —Gina Kolata, New York Times Book Review, 7 Sept. 1997
For anyone who has ever struggled to extract a recalcitrant cork from a bottle … the value of a good corkscrew is a given. —Ettagale Blauer, Wine Spectator, 31 Oct. 1996
George and I were down in a trench hacking at one particularly recalcitrant oak carcass when a local farmer pulled up in his truck. —P. J. O'Rourke, Republican Party Reptile, 1987
You are not the kind of person who beats on recalcitrant vending machines. —Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, 1984
In November 1891, James Naismith, a 32-year-old Canadian-born instructor at the International Y.M.C.A. Training School in Springfield, was asked to invent an indoor game to help tame the members of a recalcitrant gym class. —Scott Ellsworth, New York Times, 29 May 1994
the manager worried that the recalcitrant employee would try to undermine his authority
a heart-to-heart talk with the recalcitrant youth revealed that he had a troubled life at home
Recent Examples of recalcitrant from the Web
The Justice Department did not make the letters from individual jurisdictions public, or identify the allegedly recalcitrant jurisdictions.
Already, the bill was being written with an eye toward winning the votes of recalcitrant Republicans.
However, Mr. McConnell may also decide that the matter cannot be closed without a vote and take his chances that recalcitrant members can be pulled along.
Like the war in Yemen, the isolation of Qatar is an effort by Salman and his son to subdue a recalcitrant neighbor to fall in line with Saudi policies.
That’s not a thrilling result, but at least the C-Max’s gas pedal responds readily to inputs, unlike the recalcitrant pedal in the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime.
And swearing has intensified as Democrats have become more recalcitrant in their resistance to the president.
All the more considering the luster of Cohen's tone in all registers and tempos, seemingly defying the recalcitrant nature of the clarinet.
Insurance companies blame lawyers; lawyers blame insurance companies Lawyers insist they are forced to file lawsuits to make recalcitrant insurance companies pay what is due to victims.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recalcitrant'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Long before any human was dubbed "recalcitrant" in English (that first occurred, as best we know, in one of William Thackeray's works in 1843), there were stubborn mules (and horses) kicking back their heels. The ancient Romans noted as much (Pliny the Elder among them), and they had a word for it - "recalcitrare," which literally means "to kick back." (Its root calc-, meaning "heel," is also the root of "calcaneus," the large bone of the heel in humans.) Certainly Roman citizens in Pliny's time were sometimes willful and hardheaded - as attested by various Latin words meaning "stubborn" - but it wasn’t until later that writers of Late Latin applied recalcitrare and its derivative adjective to humans who were stubborn as mules.
Origin and Etymology of recalcitrant
Late Latin recalcitrant-, recalcitrans, present participle of recalcitrare to be stubbornly disobedient, from Latin, to kick back, from re- + calcitrare to kick, from calc-, calx heel
First Known Use: 1843See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of recalcitrant
RECALCITRANT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of recalcitrant for English Language Learners
: stubbornly refusing to obey rules or orders
Medical Definition of recalcitrant
: not responsive to treatment severe recalcitrant psoriasis recalcitrant warts
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