[ ri-frak-tuh-ree ]
/ rɪˈfræk tə ri /
Save This Word!

hard or impossible to manage; stubbornly disobedient: a refractory child.
resisting ordinary methods of treatment.
difficult to fuse, reduce, or work, as an ore or metal.
noun, plural re·frac·to·ries.
a material having the ability to retain its physical shape and chemical identity when subjected to high temperatures.
refractories, bricks of various shapes used in lining furnaces.
In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of refractory

First recorded in 1600–10; variant of refractary (by analogy with adjectives in -ory1), from Latin refrāctārius “stubborn, obstinate,” equivalent to refrāct(us) (see refract) + -ārius-ary

synonym study for refractory

1. See unruly.


re·frac·to·ri·ly, adverbre·frac·to·ri·ness, nounun·re·frac·to·ry, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use refractory in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for refractory

/ (rɪˈfræktərɪ) /

unmanageable or obstinate
med not responding to treatment
(of a material) able to withstand high temperatures without fusion or decomposition
noun plural -ries
a material, such as fireclay or alumina, that is able to withstand high temperatures: used to line furnaces, kilns, etc

Derived forms of refractory

refractorily, adverbrefractoriness, noun

Word Origin for refractory

C17: variant of obsolete refractary; see refract
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

Medical definitions for refractory

[ rĭ-frăktə-rē ]

Resistant to treatment, as a disease.
Unresponsive to stimuli, as a muscle or nerve fiber.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for refractory

[ rĭ-frăktə-rē ]

Having a high melting point. Ceramics that are made from clay and minerals are often refractory, as are metal oxides and carbides. Refractory materials are often used as liners in furnaces.
Resistant to heat.
Of or relating to a refractory period.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.