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to be unwilling to obey orders or follow discipline


recalcitrant = widerspenstig, aufsässig, hartnäckig, störrisch, bockig --- GOOGLE INDEX recalcitrant: approximately 3,410,000 hits



If history is any guide, Mr Kuczynski will have trouble rallying public opinion to pressure RECALCITRANT lawmakers to pass his agenda: every Peruvian president in recent memory has endured dismal approval ratings for most of their terms.

The Economist

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- unwilling to obey orders or to do what should be done

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Recalcitrant is a fancy word for stubborn.

If your four-year-old child refuses to eat its vegetables for instance, you wouldn't say, "My child is being so recalcitrant." Instead, you would likely shout, "He's so hard-headed!"

Or if your teenage daughter refuses to put away her smartphone at the dinner table, you would probably complain that she is being bullheaded.

Then there are words for stubborn that are usually reserved for elders. Many seniors tend to be set in their ways, which can be described with the wonderful word "cantankerous." There is a wealth of words for stubborn, depending on the situation.

Recalcitrant is a more formal term for stubborn and comes across as less emotional and more matter-of-fact. And it's often applied in the context of challenging authority. You can normally use it without personally upsetting someone, although there are always people who feel offended with any type of criticism.

For instance, if you wanted to describe a situation in which a co-worker refused to carry out a task, you could say they were being recalcitrant. It's not personal and not below the belt. It's more or less just stating a fact or an opinion.

The word stems from the Latin calcitrare, meaning "to kick," so a recalcitrant person is kicking back against what someone wants from them.


bullheaded, hard-headed, headstrong, inexorable, inflexible, intractable, obdurate, pigheaded, rigid, unbending

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"Recalcitrant adolescents are to be found in all societies and all ages of history."

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