Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective intractable differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of intractable are headstrong, recalcitrant, refractory, ungovernable, unruly, and willful. While all these words mean "not submissive to government or control," intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control.

intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump

When would headstrong be a good substitute for intractable?

The synonyms headstrong and intractable are sometimes interchangeable, but headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion.

a headstrong young cavalry officer

When is recalcitrant a more appropriate choice than intractable?

Although the words recalcitrant and intractable have much in common, recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority.

acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace

When can refractory be used instead of intractable?

While in some cases nearly identical to intractable, refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold.

special schools for refractory children

Where would ungovernable be a reasonable alternative to intractable?

The words ungovernable and intractable are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others.

ungovernable rage

When is it sensible to use unruly instead of intractable?

The words unruly and intractable can be used in similar contexts, but unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior.

unruly children

When could willful be used to replace intractable?

The meanings of willful and intractable largely overlap; however, willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way.

a willful disregard for the rights of others

Thesaurus Entries Near intractable

Cite this Entry

“Intractable.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/intractable. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on intractable

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!