stubborn

adjective
stub·​born | \ ˈstə-bərn \

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 \ 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

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 Some airports with particularly stubborn birds are forced to get creative: Salt Lake City’s airport deploys pigs to eat up gull eggs, and border collies chase away herons and egrets at Southwest Florida International in Fort Myers. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Airports Keep Birds Away," 5 Nov. 2018 While these are not easy afflictions to heal, and perhaps impossible to cure, one of the greatest threats to recovery remains the stubborn (and often idealistic) unwillingness of those who wield the scalpels to cut away the sickness. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Twitter is wrong: facts are not enough to combat Alex Jones," 10 Aug. 2018 Some products, such as popcorn and pie crust, proved more stubborn to reinvention. Author: Caitlin Dewey, Anchorage Daily News, "Artificial trans fats, widely linked to heart disease, are officially banned," 19 June 2018 Sarri has already been replaced at the Stadio San Paolo by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has been stubborn with the west London club over how much compensation the Ciucciarelli should recieve. SI.com, "Maurizio Sarri Close to 3-Year Contract at Chelsea With Blues' Legend Set for Assistant Role," 15 June 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.

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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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Statistics for stubborn

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stubborn

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

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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 \

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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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

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