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

But history may also see her as a leader who faced a devilishly difficult situation with stubborn determination. Washington Post, "Diligent Theresa May failed to solve the UK’s Brexit puzzle," 7 June 2019 How to clean your glass cooktop to prevent stubborn stains The trick to keeping this surface clean and saving yourself more time, stress, and elbow grease is to stay ahead of the mess and not give it a chance to bake on in the first place. Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean A Glass Cooktop so it Looks Brand New Again," 30 Apr. 2019 Joy also must reconcile Ruby’s stubborn determination to be in control of everything, including the town’s legendary baking competition known as the Cookie Crawl. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "10 TV Shows and Movies to Watch in Between Your Halloween Shenanigans," 28 Oct. 2018 And yet nothing has worked on the stubborn hard-water stains and soap-scum buildup that makes your glass shower doors look frosted, and not in a nice decorative way. Jolie Kerr, New York Times, "Five Ways to Make Spring Cleaning Easier," 4 May 2018 For stubborn stains like wine or coffee, directions on the side of the box suggest how to remove them. Jean Kressy, BostonGlobe.com, "Ceramic coasters protect tables and absorb moisture," 30 Apr. 2018 Let stubborn stains soak, and then scrub them clean. Nicole Spector /, NBC News, "The kitchen is the germiest room. Here's how to deep clean everything.," 3 July 2018 Taurus — Toph Beifong Perhaps the most stubborn of the earth signs, people under the Taurus sign vibe perfectly with Avatar: The Last Airbender’s earthbender Toph Beifong. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "Which Superhero You Are According to Your Zodiac Sign," 26 Apr. 2019 Bulls get the reputation of being stubborn, but they're not always stuck in their ways. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Baby Will Likely Have the Same Zodiac Sign as Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and the Queen," 10 Mar. 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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Statistics for stubborn

Last Updated

23 Jun 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 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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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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