[ ri-kal-si-truhnt ]
/ rɪˈkæl sɪ trənt /


resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
hard to deal with, manage, or operate.


a recalcitrant person.

Nearby words

  1. rec room,
  2. rec.,
  3. rec. sec.,
  4. recalcification,
  5. recalcitrance,
  6. recalcitrate,
  7. recalculate,
  8. recalesce,
  9. recalescence,
  10. recalibrate

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

SYNONYMS FOR recalcitrant
1. resistant, rebellious, opposed. See unruly.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for unrecalcitrant


/ (rɪˈkælsɪtrənt) /


not susceptible to control or authority; refractory


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 unrecalcitrant



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