stub·​born | \ ˈstə-bərn How to pronounce stubborn (audio) \

Essential Meaning of stubborn

1 : refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something She's wrong, but she's too stubborn to admit it. I admire his stubborn refusal to quit. See More ExamplesShe has a stubborn streak. [=she is often stubborn] He's (as) stubborn as a mule. [=he's very/extremely stubborn]Hide
2 : difficult to deal with, remove, etc. stubborn hair trying to treat a stubborn infection a stubborn stain

Full 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 stubborn (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 Zena is extremely stubborn and perhaps also unable to understand that Ken needs full time care. Carolyn Rosenblatt, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 Paul—here played by Timothée Chalamet, who actually looks like a teenager—is callow, stubborn, argumentative, and possessed of a superficial idealism that can easily slide into cynicism. David Klion, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2021 The small but stubborn Route fire near Castaic in the Angeles National Forest swallowed around 500 acres. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2021 Chiofaro is notoriously brash and stubborn, and his opponents — namely CLF, residents of Harbor Towers, and the New England Aquarium — are newly emboldened to put up a fight., 29 Aug. 2021 The Melania Trump whom Grisham describes is as stubborn as her husband, but his temperamental opposite. Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2021 The Cardinals found the winless Jaguars to be pretty stubborn and the Arizona defense gave up its share of yards (361). Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 27 Sep. 2021 To legitimize the claim, Schneider has receipts that Tommy was born Feb. 15, 2017, and the kid was stubborn enough to stay in a more comfortable environment until just after the Warriors had wrapped up a 23-point win over the Sacramento Kings. Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Sep. 2021 The Jets finished the game with 45 rushing yards on 17 carries, yet LaFleur was stubborn about calling runs on first down., 12 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near stubborn

stubble spurge


stubborn child

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Statistics for stubborn

Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stubborn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for stubborn


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

More from Merriam-Webster on stubborn

Nglish: Translation of stubborn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stubborn for Arabic Speakers


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