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 Overall, the Egyptologists come across as an intense, impressive, often disagreeable bunch: intrepid and eccentric, stubborn and domineering, xenophobic and self-serving. Ursula Lindsey, The New York Review of Books, "Ancient Egypt for the Egyptians," 27 Apr. 2021 His critics see the governor as stubborn and unwilling to hear dissent. New York Times, "Could Ron DeSantis Be Trump’s G.O.P. Heir? He’s Certainly Trying.," 10 Apr. 2021 Grieving at the way her mother, stubborn and self-sufficient all her life, spent her last confusing, unhappy days. Will Englund, Washington Post, "A small town in denial comes face to face with the virus," 26 Feb. 2021 His blustery, stubborn and yet entirely sweet patriarch is at the center of the show. Lynn Elber And Mark Kennedy, chicagotribune.com, "Emmy predictions when predicting the future is folly," 15 Sep. 2020 This is the moment for stubborn optimism -- the necessary mindset when embarking on any momentous task. Christiana Figueres, CNN, "Finally, the wind is at our back on the climate crisis," 22 Apr. 2021 But that episode, and other scenes involving the Minishonka, feel more sure of themselves than whenever Nathan’s naive, stubborn bravado keeps getting him, his family, and even the Rutherford corporation into trouble. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "‘Rutherford Falls’: Ed Helms in a Culture Clash," 21 Apr. 2021 Yet stubborn cultural stigmas have prompted many politicians to keep their distance from the issue and the legal cannabis business. BostonGlobe.com, "On 4/20, Boston’s acting mayor turns to marijuana industry for campaign cash," 20 Apr. 2021 He's bullheaded, stubborn, not the brightest guy sometimes. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Jeffrey Dean Morgan was 'nervous as hell' how wife Hilarie Burton would do on The Walking Dead," 5 Apr. 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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stubborn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stubborn. Accessed 11 May. 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

Comments on stubborn

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