[rek-yuh-zuh nt, ri-kyoo-zuh nt]


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 formsun·rec·u·sant, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recusant

Historical Examples of recusant

  • I bethink me—a Papist priest—a recusant—who was for some time an inmate of the hall.


    William Harrison Ainsworth

  • Its object is not the moral education of the recusant individuals.


    L. T. Hobhouse

  • Never before had a recusant daughter braved her to her face.

  • 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."


    William Black

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 Formsrecusance or recusancy, noun

Word Origin for recusant

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

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