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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  • "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

  • 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 authoritarian grandmother turns every servant recalcitrant

    July 22, 2013

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

    - Gerald Brenan

    October 26, 2009

  • The bears have been recalcitrant this summer.

    August 19, 2008

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

    August 19, 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

  • ree-KAL-see-trent

    May 5, 2008

  • No, Mahathir Mohammed.

    December 13, 2007

  • Paul Keating.

    December 13, 2007