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 Allison was also stubborn, strong-willed, and had an overwhelming passion that could set off a quick temper. Paula Schleis, cincinnati.com, "She told guardsmen at Kent State 'Flowers are better than bullets!' Then a bullet killed her.," 2 May 2020 Later, Ian tries to prevent Fergus from visiting Jamie, fearing Fergus will take offense at Jamie’s stubborn refusal to lose a limb. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Outlander recap: Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?," 20 Apr. 2020 Even when the two are in the same room, memories of past hurts and their mutual stubborn refusal to acknowledge each other’s needs stand in the way of any real communication. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Tigertail’s Christine Ko Didn’t Think She’d Get To Be A Leading Lady — Now She’s On Netflix," 10 Apr. 2020 Being stubborn and unwavering, never giving in, never giving up, no matter what the obstacles. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Two sons of New England put Reds in a big hole in 1975 World Series," 30 Mar. 2020 But his stubborn refusal to take a sick day only adds to the shot-and-a-beer aura of Uncle Vic. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Is watching Broncos rookie QB Drew Lock throw the football as painful as passing a kidney stone?," 1 Aug. 2019 Walton marvels at Cohen’s stubborn refusal to cave to life’s unrelenting curveballs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Ride from the heart connects transplant recipient, family of fallen Navy officer," 29 July 2019 For more severe or stubborn acne, talk to a dermatologist about getting a prescription retinoid. 2. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "8 Causes of Adult Acne—and How to Actually Treat It," 31 Oct. 2019 One is light-hearted and goofy, the other stubborn and edgy. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets turn to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in NBA’s super duo era," 23 Oct. 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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stubborn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stubborn. Accessed 5 Jun. 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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