Definition of stubborn
- a stubborn jaw
- stubborn effort
- a stubborn cold
- stubborn facts
She's wrong, but she's too stubborn to admit it.
I admire his stubborn refusal to quit.
trying to treat a stubborn infection
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.
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.
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
: refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something
: difficult to deal with, remove, etc.
What made you want to look up stubborn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).