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.

Origin of refractory

1600–10; variant of refractary (by analogy with adjectives in -ory1) < Latin refrāctārius stubborn, obstinate, equivalent to refrāct(us) (see refract) + -ārius -ary
Related formsre·frac·to·ri·ly, adverbre·frac·to·ri·ness, nounun·re·frac·to·ry, adjective

Synonyms for refractory

Antonyms for refractory Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for refractoriness

Historical Examples of refractoriness

  • The great Potter is not to be blamed because of the refractoriness of the clay.

    The Potter and the Clay

    Arthur F. Winnington Ingram

  • He is willing to hope you to be all obedience, and would prevent all incitements to refractoriness.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • This was all he had to offer to the Father in expiation of his contumely and refractoriness, his errors and his falls.

    The Cathedral

    Joris-Karl Huysmans

  • Since all resistance is useless, I lay down my arms although after relapses into refractoriness.


    August Strindberg

  • And he only gave way after Bartek's refractoriness also had been softened by unusual eloquence on Porankiewicz's part.

British Dictionary definitions for refractoriness



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 Formsrefractorily, 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

Word Origin and History for refractoriness



"stubborn, obstinate, perverse," 1610s (earlier refractorious, 1550s, refractary, c.1600), from Latin refractarius "obstinate, stubborn," from past participle stem of refringere (see refraction). Related: Refractorily; refractoriness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for refractoriness




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.

Science definitions for refractoriness



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.