[ in-trak-tuh-buhl ]
/ ɪnˈtræk tə bəl /


not easily controlled or directed; not docile or manageable; stubborn; obstinate: an intractable disposition.
(of things) hard to shape or work with: an intractable metal.
hard to treat, relieve, or cure: the intractable pain in his leg.


an intractable person.

Nearby words

  1. intracranial,
  2. intracranial cavity,
  3. intracranial hemorrhage,
  4. intracranial pressure,
  5. intractability,
  6. intracutaneous,
  7. intracutaneous reaction,
  8. intracutaneous test,
  9. intrad,
  10. intraday

Origin of intractable

From the Latin word intractābilis, dating back to 1535–45. See in-3, tractable

Related formsin·trac·ta·bil·i·ty, in·trac·ta·ble·ness, nounin·trac·ta·bly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for intractably

  • The United States and NATO were implicated more deeply, directly and intractably in Afghanistan than they had ever been in Bosnia.

    The Taliban on Richard Holbrooke|Christopher Dickey, Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai|December 14, 2010|DAILY BEAST
  • But something in him, some intractably tough bit of his old self, rose up protesting—frantically.

    A Christmas Garland|Max Beerbohm
  • "Then it appears to me that Sergeant Troy does not concern us here," she said, intractably.

  • "O no," she said, intractably moving to the other side of the decayed fire.

British Dictionary definitions for intractably


/ (ɪnˈtræktəbəl) /


difficult to influence or directan intractable disposition
(of a problem, illness, etc) difficult to solve, alleviate, or cure
difficult to shape or mould, esp with the hands
Derived Formsintractability or intractableness, nounintractably, adverb

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

Word Origin and History for intractably



c.1500, "rough, stormy;" 1540s, "not manageable," from Latin intractabilis "not to be handled, unmanageable," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + tractabilis (see tractable). Related: Intractably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for intractably


[ ĭn-trăktə-bəl ]


Difficult to manage or govern; stubborn.
Difficult to alleviate, remedy, or cure.
Related formsin•trac′ta•bili•ty n.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.