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[rek-yuh-zuh nt, ri-kyoo-zuh nt] /ˈrɛk yə zənt, rɪˈkyu zənt/
refusing to submit, comply, etc.
obstinate in refusal.
English History. refusing to attend services of the Church of England.
a person who is recusant.
English History. a person, especially a Roman Catholic, who refused to attend the services of the Church of England.
Origin of recusant
1545-55; < Latin recūsant- (stem of recūsāns), present participle of recusāre to demur, object, equivalent to re- re- + -cūsāre, verbal derivative of causa cause; see -ant
Related forms
unrecusant, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for recusant
Historical Examples
  • I bethink me—a Papist priest—a recusant—who was for some time an inmate of the hall.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • Its object is not the moral education of the recusant individuals.

    Liberalism L. T. Hobhouse
  • Never before had a recusant daughter braved her to her face.

    Not Like Other Girls Rosa N. Carey
  • The recusant was one Walter Simpson, the Vulcan of the parish.

    Scotch Wit and Humor

    W. H. (Walter Henry) Howe
  • And then he added, "The Council will not find, at all events, that I am recusant."

    Sunrise William Black
  • He was summoned to the bar of the House as a Popish recusant.

  • Then better off than he were savages, who could destroy their recusant idols.

    Idolatry Julian Hawthorne
  • The recusant States must be whipped back into submission to the autocrats that would direct their affairs.

  • The recusant children ranged themselves before the teacher, who seemed to think she had now quenched the rebellion.

  • The disappointed emperor could only complain to the Pope, and the Pope put the recusant psalmodists in prison.

British Dictionary definitions for recusant


(in 16th to 18th century England) a Roman Catholic who did not attend the services of the Church of England, as was required by law
any person who refuses to submit to authority
(formerly, of Catholics) refusing to attend services of the Church of England
refusing to submit to authority
Derived Forms
recusance, recusancy, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin recūsāns refusing, from recūsāre from re- + causārī to dispute, from causa a cause
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for recusant

"obstinate in refusal," 1550s, from Latin recusantem (nominative recusans) "refusing to obey," present participle of recusare "make an objection against; decline, refuse, reject; be reluctant to" (see recuse). The noun meaning "one obstinate in refusing" is from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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