See more synonyms for recalcitrant on
  1. a recalcitrant person.

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for recalcitrance

Contemporary Examples of recalcitrance

  • "They are not changing their mind," Ryan said, referring to Iranian leaders' recalcitrance to curb their program.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Ryan Almost Made A Deal With Iran

    Ali Gharib

    October 12, 2012

  • Thus the Iranian recalcitrance, and the ensuing cycle of both sides demanding major concessions before offering any reciprocity.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Ryan Almost Made A Deal With Iran

    Ali Gharib

    October 12, 2012

  • She spelled “recalcitrance,” then “pernicious,” and after a halfhearted debate it was obvious that none of the three had a clue.

    The Daily Beast logo
    John Grisham's Debut Short Story

    John Grisham

    October 26, 2009

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
  1. a recalcitrant person
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.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper