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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web Resourceful and stubborn, Turner used guerrilla tactics, including a backdoor plea to a sympathetic department head. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Tuning in for a Sunday morning Beatles fix," 27 Dec. 2019 Meanwhile, sustained operations between U.S. and Afghan forces – and contention with the Taliban – are reported to have expelled ISIS almost entirely from its stubborn foothold in the eastern plains of Afghanistan. Fox News, "ISIS 'caliphate' crumbled in 2019, but terror group remains forceful threat, experts say," 22 Dec. 2019 There’s also very little downtime needed for recovery—only a few hours of redness—but Dr. Jeanniton advises multiple treatments to fade stubborn pigment. Akili King, Vogue, "The Best Products and Treatments For Hyperpigmentation," 20 Dec. 2019 Useful for stubborn # networks with symmetric NAT, etc. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "How to set up your own Nebula mesh VPN, step by step," 19 Dec. 2019 For now, what the polls show is exactly what Wednesday’s impeachment debate showed: the stubborn, unyielding reality of a country divided, of an America whose views are fixed about Trump and about everything else. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "The House’s Sad, Predictable, Partisan, and Historic Impeachment of Donald Trump," 19 Dec. 2019 The responses confirmed that stubborn partisanship is cleaving the country. Dean Reynolds, CBS News, "Voters across the country remain divided on impeachment," 18 Dec. 2019 Spraying vodka onto fabric around your home is the perfect way to lift stubborn smells. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "DeKor, NYC's Chicest New Home Store, Used to Be a Leaky Basement," 12 Dec. 2019 The stubborn elusiveness of dark matter has forced us to abandon many of our favorite theories and to consider some radically new ideas about this substance and the conditions under which it was formed in the first instants after the Big Bang. Dan Hooper, Time, "Will We Ever Find Dark Matter in the Universe?," 6 Dec. 2019

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 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stubborn.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stubbornness. Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for stubborn

stubborn

adjective
How to pronounce stubborn (audio)

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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Comments on stubborn

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