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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stubborn

stubbornly adverb
stubbornness \ ˈstə-​bər(n)-​nəs How to pronounce stubbornness (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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

James Bartelle gives Athos a stubborn nobility and serves as a reluctant father figure to Russell's D'Artagnan. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "'Three Musketeers' is one for all and all for fun at NOMA Sculpture Garden," 12 May 2018 These small dwellings covered a landscape previously dotted with the one thorny tree stubborn enough to grow in the cruel conditions. Sarah Butrymowicz, Marie Claire, "Refugee Girls Want to Change the World. Will We Let Them?," 7 Jan. 2019 Brody’s five now, slogging through 40 hours of therapy a week, autistic and epileptic and as stubborn as the disease that, at its very worse, was causing him to have one or two seizures an hour. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Andrew Luck still has no pain in throwing shoulder," 27 June 2018 Brady, as stubborn as any of his four-legged charges, has no intention of listening to his doctors and abandoning his rodeo dreams. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Chloé Zhao's cowboy drama 'The Rider' is a moving, lyrical tale of loss and recovery," 10 Apr. 2018 Remove stubborn rust from small tools with fine steel wool. Cindy Daniel, Sunset, "How to Maintan Your Garden Tools," 22 Jan. 2018 Practitioners measure things like telomeres—the protective caps on chromosomes that supposedly reveal one’s biological age—to locate the source of an ailment or those last stubborn pounds. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, "The Future of Dieting Is Here—And it Has Nothing to do With Calorie Counting," 29 Oct. 2018 Plus, as Theo is reported to take on Andy’s similar stubborn and quick-witted attitude—and with many of the same writers and producers on board—this latest installment will likely bear a familiar resemblance to the award-winning original. Megan Stein, Country Living, "The 'NYPD Blue' Reboot Is Killing Off a Major Character When It Returns," 18 Oct. 2018 Our family of Earthlings is decidedly not that way, and the kids have grown more stubborn and opinionated with age. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "What They Don't Tell You About Cross-Country Family Road Trips," 23 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of stubborn

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

History and Etymology for stubborn

Middle English stibourne, stuborn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stubborn

Statistics for stubborn

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stubborn

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on stubborn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stubborn

Spanish Central: Translation of stubborn

Nglish: Translation of stubborn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stubborn for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stubborn

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

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!