1

refractory

play
adjective re·frac·to·ry \ ri-ˈfrak-t(ə-)rē \

Definition of refractory

1 :resisting control or authority :stubborn, unmanageable
2 a :resistant to treatment or cure
  • a refractory lesion
b :unresponsive to stimulus
c :immune, insusceptible
  • after recovery they were refractory to infection
3 :difficult to fuse, corrode, or draw out; especially :capable of enduring high temperature

refractorily

play \-t(ə-)rə-lē; ˌrē-ˌfrak-ˈtȯr-ə-lē, ri-\ adverb

refractoriness

play \ri-ˈfrak-t(ə-)rē-nəs\ noun

refractory was our Word of the Day on 08/17/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of refractory in a Sentence

  1. refractory players will be ejected from the game

  2. believing that rules are only for other people, he's been refractory virtually his entire life

Recent Examples of refractory from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Refractory is from the Latin word refractarius. During the 17th century, it was sometimes spelled as refractary, but that spelling, though more in keeping with its Latin parent, had fallen out of use by the century's end. Refractarius, like refractory, is the result of a slight variation in spelling. It stems from the Latin verb refragari, meaning "to oppose."

Origin and Etymology of refractory

alteration of refractary, from Latin refractarius, irregular from refragari to oppose, from re- + -fragari (as in suffragari to support with one's vote)

Synonym Discussion of refractory

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control. unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior.
    • unruly children
ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others.
    • ungovernable rage
intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control.
    • intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump
refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold.
    • special schools for refractory children
recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority.
    • acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace
willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way.
    • a willful disregard for the rights of others
headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion.
    • a headstrong young cavalry officer

2

refractory

noun

Definition of refractory

plural refractories
:a refractory person or thing; especially :a heat-resisting ceramic material

First Known Use of refractory

1627


REFRACTORY Defined for English Language Learners

refractory

play
adjective

Definition of refractory for English Language Learners

  • medical : difficult to treat or cure

  • : difficult to control or deal with


REFRACTORY Defined for Kids

refractory

play
adjective re·frac·to·ry \ ri-ˈfrak-tə-rē \

Definition of refractory for Students

1 :resisting control or authority :stubborn
  • a refractory child
2 :capable of enduring very high temperatures
  • refractory clays

Medical Dictionary

refractory

play
adjective re·frac·to·ry \ ri-ˈfrak-t(ə-)rē \

medical Definition of refractory

1 :resistant to treatment or cure
  • a refractory fulminant lesion
  • had disease that was extremely refractory to multiple intensive therapies
  • —Michelle L. Bennett et al
2 :unresponsive to stimulus
  • the refractory period of a muscle fiber
3 :resistant or not responding to an infectious agent :immune
  • refractory to reinfection


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up refractory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a strongly worded attack

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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