Word of the Day : September 10, 2011


adjective kahn-too-MAY-shus


: stubbornly disobedient : rebellious

Did You Know?

Legal contexts are one area where you might encounter this fancy word for "rebellious" or "insubordinate" -- and the link between "contumacious" and the law goes back to Latin. The Latin adjective "contumax" means "rebellious," or, in specific cases, "showing contempt of court." "Contumacious" is related to "contumely," meaning "harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt." Both "contumacious" and "contumely" are thought to ultimately come from the Latin verb "tumēre," meaning "to swell" or "to be proud."


"She sat still, looking a little contumacious, and very much indisposed to stir." -- From Charlotte Brontë's 1849 novel Shirley

"Americans are taught that the war was a noble conflict waged by Lincoln and the forces of light against misguided and contumacious Southerners…." -- From a book review by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in The New York Times, July 3, 2011

Name That Antonym

What antonym of "contumacious" rhymes with "newly"? The answer is ...


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