ob·​strep·​er·​ous əb-ˈstre-p(ə-)rəs How to pronounce obstreperous (audio)
: marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous
obstreperous merriment
an obstreperous argument
: stubbornly resistant to control : unruly
obstreperous behavior
an obstreperous child
obstreperously adverb
obstreperousness noun

Did you know?

The handy Latin prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," "against," or "toward," occurs in many Latin and English words. Obstreperous comes from ob- plus strepere, a verb meaning "to make a noise," so someone who is obstreperous can be thought of as literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. The word has been used in English since around the beginning of the 17th century. Strepere has had a limited impact on the English lexicon; in addition to obstreperous it seems only to have contributed strepitous and its synonym strepitant, which mean "characterized or accompanied by much noise"—that is, "noisy." Ob- words, on the other hand, abound, and include such terms as obnoxious, occasion, offend, omit, oppress, and oust.

Choose the Right Synonym for obstreperous

vociferous, clamorous, blatant, strident, boisterous, obstreperous mean so loud or insistent as to compel attention.

vociferous implies a vehement shouting or calling out.

vociferous cries of protest and outrage

clamorous may imply insistency as well as vociferousness in demanding or protesting.

clamorous demands for prison reforms

blatant implies an offensive bellowing or insensitive loudness.

blatant rock music
a blatant clamor for impeachment

strident suggests harsh and discordant noise.

heard the strident cry of the crow

boisterous suggests a noisiness and turbulence due to high spirits.

a boisterous crowd of party goers

obstreperous suggests unruly and aggressive noisiness and resistance to restraint.

the obstreperous demonstrators were arrested

Examples of obstreperous in a Sentence

a room full of obstreperous children an obstreperous crowd protesting the government's immigration policy
Recent Examples on the Web And anyway, subverting an election is hardly the act of an obstreperous child. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 8 Aug. 2023 That’s bad news for the country’s democratic future, but NATO allies can hope Mr. Erdoğan will be less obstreperous now that he’s held onto power. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 29 May 2023 One or tow of the most obstreperous were summarily ejected by the sergeant-at-arms, who, flushed with official pride, strode up and down the aisles, stopping once in a while to bring to time some youngster who showed signs of becoming too boisterous. San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Nov. 2022 But even before the classified documents became news, some members of the usually obstreperous and rarely satisfied press corps privately grumbled that, unlike Psaki, Jean-Pierre doesn’t always know what’s going on in Biden’s White House. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2023 Robby was the younger brother: the wayward one, the obstreperous one. Tobi Haslett, The New York Review of Books, 22 Dec. 2022 Stuff like making sure the site doesn't crash, and coaxing obstreperous commenters into better behavior? Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 26 June 2012 During the Trump era, one of the best running jokes was the media’s near-desperate search for signs that the president was shedding his obstreperous tendencies and settling into a new, earnestly presidential tone. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 3 Dec. 2022 Investigative journalists have long met with obstreperous and sometimes threatening subjects. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obstreperous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin obstreperus, from obstrepere to clamor against, from ob- against + strepere to make a noise

First Known Use

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obstreperous was circa 1600


Dictionary Entries Near obstreperous

Cite this Entry

“Obstreperous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstreperous. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


ob·​strep·​er·​ous əb-ˈstrep-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce obstreperous (audio)
: noisy and hard to control
obstreperously adverb
obstreperousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on obstreperous

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