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

  • adjective Stubbornly resistant to or defiant of authority or guidance. synonym: obstinate.
  • adjective Difficult to manage or deal with.
  • adjective Resistant to chemical decomposition; decomposing extremely slowly.
  • noun A recalcitrant person.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Refusing to submit; exhibiting repugnance or opposition; not submissive or compliant; refractory.

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

  • adjective Kicking back; recalcitrating; hence, showing repugnance or opposition; refractory.

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

  • adjective Marked by a stubborn unwillingness to obey authority.
  • adjective Unwilling to cooperate socially.
  • adjective Difficult to deal with or to operate.
  • noun A person who is recalcitrant.

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

  • adjective marked by stubborn resistance to authority
  • adjective stubbornly resistant to authority or control


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

[Late Latin recalcitrāns, recalcitrant-, present participle of recalcitrāre, to be disobedient, from Latin, to deny access : re-, re- + calcitrāre, to kick (from calx, calc-, heel).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin recalcitrāns, recalcitrantis, present participle of recalcitrō, recalcitrāre ("be disobedient").


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  • The term "recalcitrant" reminds me of a time when the Australian Prim Minister Paul Keating referred to Malasia's Prim Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad as recalcitrant.

    The Economist: Daily news and views 2011

  • But one theme that Chávez wove through the entire interview was the resurgence of the "transnational Right" -- or what he calls the recalcitrant right.

    Greg Grandin: Hugo Chavez on Obama and the 'Recalcitrant Right' 2009

  • Is there, or is there not, a brassbound plot to lead a chthonic jihad against those who oppose Mr. Livingston, organized through the years by what I call recalcitrant bludgers?

    White Mob Disrupts Black Meeting Nathaniel Livingston 2005

  • GOP is a good party, but some of its candidates have earned the distinction of bein 'recalcitrant and intractable, when it comes to managin' worldly affairs, as observed by us recently.

    Poll suggests Corzine in trouble 2009

  • Angus called his recalcitrant attention back to order.

    One Night in Scotland Karen Hawkins 2010

  • Citicorp, were once known as recalcitrant supporters of South

    ANC Daily News Briefing 1997

  • The recalcitrant are a minority in all these things.

    Castro Addresses UJC Congress Closing Session 1992

  • It was thus that he posed before his council when, finding unexpected opposition, he undertook to impose his will upon them, and recall the recalcitrant members to their duty.

    Crime d'Orcival. English ��mile Gaboriau 1852

  • One spending sinkhole can be traced to large medical-equipment suppliers, device makers, and pharmaceutical companies, which government auditors and industry veterans describe as a recalcitrant bunch. -- 2009

  • One spending sinkhole can be traced to large medical-equipment suppliers, device makers, and pharmaceutical companies, which government auditors and industry veterans describe as a recalcitrant bunch. -- 2009


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  • Paul Keating.

    December 13, 2007

  • No, Mahathir Mohammed.

    December 13, 2007

  • ree-KAL-see-trent

    May 5, 2008

  • ...By last week, this peculiar state of mind had not only sucked thousands of American oil wells dry, stripped the rubber groves of Malaya, produced the world's most inhuman industry and its most recalcitrant labor union, but had filled U.S. streets with so many automobiles that it was almost impossible to drive one...

    The Last Traffic Jam, Time Magazine, December 15, 1947

    June 7, 2008

  • Useful to describe children. "Ma'am, I'm afraid your child has been quite recalcitrant."

    August 19, 2008

  • The bears have been recalcitrant this summer.

    August 19, 2008

  • "Words are as recalcitrant as circus animals, and the unskilled trainer can crack his whip at them in vain."

    - Gerald Brenan

    October 26, 2009

  • my authoritarian grandmother turns every servant recalcitrant

    July 22, 2013

  • Botanists call seeds that don't survive dessication recalcitrant. Though rare in temperate and seasonal climates, this strategy is found in an estimated 70 percent of tropical rainforest trees, wehre quick germination offers more of an advantage than long-term dormancy. What works in a jungle, however, makes things difficult in a storage facility. Christina Walters at the US National Seed Bank calls recalcitrant seeds "spoiled little children," but has found some success flash-freezing isolated embryos in liquid nitrogen.

    Thor Hanson, The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History (New York: Basic Books, 2015), endnote accompanying ch. 1, p. 11.

    January 30, 2016

  • "My one-and-a-half-times veiled (once by the sequestered school and another half by the head scarf), newly pious self appeared sufficiently recalcitrant."

    Source: Putting on the Veil: Boys Invade an All-Girls School

    January 22, 2018