as in rebellious
given to resisting authority or another's control a handful of ungovernable students are disrupting the learning environment for everyone else

Synonyms & Similar Words


Antonyms & Near Antonyms


Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective ungovernable differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of ungovernable are headstrong, intractable, recalcitrant, refractory, unruly, and willful. While all these words mean "not submissive to government or control," 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 could headstrong be used to replace ungovernable?

The words headstrong and ungovernable can be used in similar contexts, but headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion.

a headstrong young cavalry officer

When can intractable be used instead of ungovernable?

The meanings of intractable and ungovernable largely overlap; however, intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control.

intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump

In what contexts can recalcitrant take the place of ungovernable?

The words recalcitrant and ungovernable are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority.

acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace

When is refractory a more appropriate choice than ungovernable?

In some situations, the words refractory and ungovernable are roughly equivalent. However, refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold.

special schools for refractory children

When is it sensible to use unruly instead of ungovernable?

Although the words unruly and ungovernable have much in common, unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior.

unruly children

When would willful be a good substitute for ungovernable?

While in some cases nearly identical to ungovernable, willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way.

a willful disregard for the rights of others

Thesaurus Entries Near ungovernable

Cite this Entry

“Ungovernable.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/ungovernable. Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

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