from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Noisily unruly or defiant.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Making a great noise or outcry; clamorous; vociferous; noisy.
  • Synonyms Tumultuous, boisterous, uproarious.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Attended by, or making, a loud and tumultuous noise; clamorous; noisy; vociferous.
  • adjective Resistant to control; unruly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Attended by, or making, a loud and tumultuous noise; boisterous.
  • adjective Noisily and stubbornly defiant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective noisily and stubbornly defiant
  • adjective boisterously and noisily aggressive


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Latin obstreperus, noisy, from obstrepere, to make a noise against : ob-, against; see ob– + strepere, to make a noise (of imitative origin).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested circa 17th century, from Latin obstreperus "clamorous, noisy," from obstrepere, "to make a noise against, oppose noisily," from ob-, "against" + strepere, "to noise."


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  • But the truthers quickly became known as obstreperous crazies who disrupted media events, most notably a taping of the HBO show "Real Time With Bill Maher," in 2007.

    NYT > Home Page By LESLIE SAVAN 2009

  • My father took the only course, as it seemed, that was open to "obstreperous" slaves - he took to the woods.

    Finding a way out : an autobiography, 1921

  • He meets an Englishman on a French train who pleases him much, and the two become good friends and see Rome together, but the fellow's wife is "obstreperous" and "haughty in her manner" and so

    A Book of Prefaces 1918

  • The teacher and her "obstreperous" pupils had disappeared from Horsford and had been almost forgotten.

    Bricks without Straw A Novel 1880

  • Edgar bade him adieu; and the faithful Ferdinand drove him wherever he had to go, and finally to Kensington Palace Gardens, where he was ushered into the drawing-room, to find Marilda, resolved upon unconsciousness, but only succeeding in a kind of obstreperous cordiality and good will, which, together with the hot room, made him quite dizzy; and his answers were so much at random, that he sent

    The Pillars of the House, V1 Charlotte Mary Yonge 1862

  • "obstreperous" pupils had disappeared from Horsford and had been almost forgotten.

    Bricks Without Straw Albion Winegar Tourg��e 1871

  • Most teachers and many parents worry when a child is obstreperous.

    Red Flags or Red Herrings? Susan Engel 2011

  • As his rating bumped still lower, he found himself constrained at every step by a hostile parliament, obstreperous governors, and unruly businessmen.

    The Return Daniel Treisman 2011

  • A Los Angeles artist who gave that city's art establishment a bursting sense of pride for having nurtured such an obstreperous talent, he earned his celebrity status in part by retaining the obsessions and wounds of a smart Catholic working-class kid from the suburbs of Detroit who had never entirely assimilated to his sun-splashed California home.

    How Will the Future Judge Him? Richard B. Woodward 2012

  • For instance, as new research shows, obstreperous behavior in early childhood does not predict academic difficulty in elementary and middle school.

    Red Flags or Red Herrings? Susan Engel 2011


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  • "Of course his infant majesty was most obstreperous at such toilet formalities and he let everyone know it ..."

    Joyce, Ulysses, 13

    January 14, 2007

  • I saw this word for the first time ever today in a Boston Globe article.

    January 23, 2007

  • I have a feeling I first saw this word in a kid's book about a naughty kite. Anyone remember that one?

    January 23, 2007

  • (not as impressive as Joyce, unfortunately)

    January 23, 2007

  • I've loved this word ever since my college roommate introduced me to it 7 or 8 years ago.

    February 23, 2007

  • Unruly or difficult to control

    September 17, 2007

  • The book about the naughty kite, by Ted Greenwood was called "Obstreperous". It is always in demand by readers who loved it as a child.

    February 11, 2008

  • Heard on CarTalk #0822.

    July 18, 2008

  • There's a guy I know who practically defines this word...I gave him a T-shirt with "obstreperous" written across the chest and he loves it

    More to the point, we used this a lot growing up. My boyfriend was always amused to hear my little sister (five years old or so) telling the dog to "stop being obstreperous!"

    July 20, 2008

  • I used this one today at work to describe a stain on a table. My coworker thought that I was speaking gibberish!

    September 8, 2008

  • A boisterously and noisily aggressive stain?

    September 8, 2008

  • Just as this harangue was over, we saw a great crowd of both sexes coming out of town into the plain. Who should it be but the new-married couple, attended by their families and friends, with ten or twelve musicians in the van, producing a most obstreperous din of harmony.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 2 ch. 9

    September 13, 2008

  • (deleted)

    January 29, 2009

  • I read this in a book today: "While a guest aboard a British warship anchored at Unalaska, he became drunk and obstreperous, embarrassing his fellow officers and shocking his host." John Taliaferro, "In a Far Country: The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898," 2006, pg. 203.

    February 16, 2009

  • How wonderful. A simple definition for such a complicated word! Reminds me of my siblings, though..

    November 24, 2009

  • For many years I spelt it "obstroporous". The curse of strine.

    January 8, 2011

  • I rather like "obstroporous" for its echo of stroppy.

    January 8, 2011

  • "And sometimes when he does sing, it brings back memories, and he gets, ah, obstreperous." -Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

    February 5, 2011