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See more synonyms for recalcitrant on Thesaurus.com
  1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
  2. hard to deal with, manage, or operate.
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  1. a recalcitrant person.
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Origin of recalcitrant

1835–45; < Latin recalcitrant- (stem of recalcitrāns, present participle of recalcitrāre to kick back), equivalent to re- re- + calcitr(āre) to strike with the heels, kick (derivative of calx heel) + -ant- -ant
Related formsre·cal·ci·trance, re·cal·ci·tran·cy, nounnon·re·cal·ci·trance, nounnon·re·cal·ci·tran·cy, nounnon·re·cal·ci·trant, adjectiveun·re·cal·ci·trant, adjective

Synonyms for recalcitrant

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1. resistant, rebellious, opposed. See unruly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for recalcitrance

stump, provocation, insurgency, summons, unruliness, insurgence, contempt, temerity, cartel, spite, guts, insubordination, rebellion, lip, dare, call, impudence, boldness, brazenness, gas

Examples from the Web for recalcitrance

Contemporary Examples of recalcitrance

Historical Examples of recalcitrance

  • I have no doubt that this recalcitrance to the crime-novel is a culpa, if not a culpa maxima.

  • The day of the Upcott visit came, and, in spite of all recalcitrance, Roger was made to mount the motor beside his wife.

    Marriage la mode

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • I think Oswald justified it by means of his recalcitrance, kind of a reverse self-esteem.

    Warren Commission (11 of 26): Hearings Vol. XI (of 15)

    The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy

  • His recalcitrance—she said—was a symptom of his whole attitude; he was taking it lying down.

  • The memorandum testifies to the strength of Bruce's hold on the country, and to the recalcitrance of Edward's barons.

British Dictionary definitions for recalcitrance


  1. not susceptible to control or authority; refractory
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  1. a recalcitrant person
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Derived Formsrecalcitrance, noun

Word Origin for recalcitrant

C19: via French from Latin recalcitrāre, from re- + calcitrāre to kick, from calx heel
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 recalcitrance


1845, from French récalcitrance or from recalcitrant + -ance.

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1823, from French récalcitrant, literally "kicking back" (17c.-18c.), past participle of recalcitrare "to kick back; be inaccessible," from re- "back" (see re-) + Latin calcitrare "to kick," from calx (genitive calcis) "heel." Used from 1797 as a French word in English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper