stubborn

adjective
stub·​born | \ ˈstə-bərn How to pronounce stubborn (audio) \

Definition of stubborn

1a(1) : unreasonably or perversely unyielding : mulish
(2) : justifiably unyielding : resolute
b : suggestive or typical of a strong stubborn nature a stubborn jaw
2 : performed or carried on in an unyielding, obstinate, or persistent manner stubborn effort
3 : difficult to handle, manage, or treat a stubborn cold
4 : lasting stubborn facts

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Other Words from stubborn

stubbornly adverb
stubbornness \ ˈstə-​bər(n)-​nəs How to pronounce stubborn (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for stubborn

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

Stubborn as a Mule (Or Some Other Animal)

Most of us are familiar with the expression stubborn as a mule, which some feel is unfair to this hybrid animal. In fairness to the mule, let us look at some of the other animals that the English language has seen fit to equate with stubbornness over the years. John Wolcot wrote of being “as stubborn as a halter’d ram.” In the 19th century satirical work The Family of the Seisers, a character is described as being “as stubborn as a dog-fish.” And a character in Maria Edgeworth’s play Love and Law describes her own hair as “stubborn as a Presbyterian.” These curious phrases are, however, exceptional: the mule is by far the most commonly referenced animal when describing stubbornness. We have been using as stubborn as a mule since at least 1771, when the expression appears in Tobias Smollett’s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker.

Examples of stubborn in a Sentence

Louise was not the first to posit the idea of a miniature horse ancestral to the Arab; but she was the only one stubborn enough to prove it. — Jason Elliot, Mirrors of the Unseen, 2006 To remove stubborn price tags from items like dishes and glassware, I use a cotton pad or Q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol dissolves the sticky glue and doesn't mess up my manicure. — Kathe Palmucci, Real Simple, April 2003 In the search for strategies to deal with the stubborn and deadly problem of driving under the influence, many cops are turning to an unusual tactic: Recruiting volunteer drinkers and drug users to teach officers to recognize impaired drivers. — Russell Gold, Wall Street Journal, 29 Oct. 2002 She's wrong, but she's too stubborn to admit it. I admire his stubborn refusal to quit. trying to treat a stubborn infection
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Recent Examples on the Web Those who know her best say privately that Ms. Cheney’s predicament reflects both her principles and her personality, including a stubborn streak that sometimes prompts her to act against her self-interest. New York Times, 4 May 2021 Despite the overwhelming support from Americans to legalize marijuana, prohibition is stubborn. Will Yakowicz, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Karagodin’s research, piece by piece, built a portrait of Stepan as a stubborn man who cherished his freedom, hated the Bolsheviks who took away his rights and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Washington Post, 9 May 2021 But a record number of passengers filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation, mostly aggrieved that airlines were stubborn about giving refunds. Dallas News, 3 May 2021 The proceedings that followed, however, demonstrated how stubborn the conventions of awards shows really are, especially impassioned and sometimes meandering speeches by winners. John Jurgensen, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 What is stubborn and disciplined one day is too docile the next. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 28 Apr. 2021 Longtime advocates of universal broadband say the plan, which requires congressional approval, may finally come close to fixing the digital divide, a stubborn problem first identified and named by regulators during the Clinton administration. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2021 The most recent season takes aim at the monarchy and portrays the Queen as someone whose coldness and stubborn devotion to tradition contributed to Diana’s experience. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, 12 Mar. 2021

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

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First Known Use of stubborn

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for stubborn

Middle English stibourne, stuborn

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Time Traveler for stubborn

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for stubborn

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stubborn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stubborn. Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for stubborn

stubborn

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of stubborn

: refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something
: difficult to deal with, remove, etc.

stubborn

adjective
stub·​born | \ ˈstə-bərn How to pronounce stubborn (audio) \

Kids Definition of stubborn

1 : refusing to change an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or urging She's too stubborn to ask for help.
2 : persistent a stubborn cough
3 : difficult to handle, manage, or treat a stubborn stain

Other Words from stubborn

stubbornly adverb
stubbornness noun

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