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  • Adj.




Despite losing his allowance, his car, and his cell phone, Henry continued to defy his parents in recalcitrant or highly stubborn rebellion. He stayed out too late, told lies, and disobeyed their wishes in a continuing rush of recalcitrant and disobedient behavior. Henry’s mom took his recalcitrant or resistant ways with calm, knowing that high school was a hard time, and that her willful son was bound to struggle with authority figures.

Quiz: What might happen to a recalcitrant student at school?

  • They would likely be punished for being disobedient and defiant.
  • They would likely get a low participation grade since they are so shy.
  • They would likely get low grades due to missing so many days of class.

Memory Hook

Calculus Trance Whenever I go to calculus the material is so hard that my brain falls into a trance, so now I'm recalcitrant to attend class.


  • It’s a gray, blustery day, the wind herding clouds across the sky like a parent hurrying along recalcitrant children. — C. J. Tudor, British author C
  • Environmentalists argue that global shipping has not been serious about the change it is making each month or each year, and instead point to targets far in the future to put off taking the important steps required today. Just as the recalcitrant car industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a more sustainable electric and autonomous future, perhaps the same is needed with global shipping. —Forbes
  • The 75-minute show does drag; it’s mostly a verbal exercise. “James” is best for kids ages 6 to 10. So in a way, one can’t really blame a recalcitrant toddler who on Saturday just wouldn’t stay in his seat. —The Star-Ledger
  • Dr. Heather Young, the pediatric infectious disease doctor who coordinated an open letter to Governor Hutchinson this morning asking that he take stricter measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, said “asking nicely” is not going to do the job in getting the recalcitrant to mask up and take other precautions. “From a pediatrician’s perspective, sometimes you have to be a little firm,” she said. —Arkansas Times

Word Ingredients

re- back, again
calc tread underfoot, track
-ant being in a state or condition

When one is acting in a recalcitrant fashion, one is in a “state of tracking back,” that is, one does not want to “track (or move) forward” by agreeing with what someone wants, but rather one “tracks back” and so symbolically refuses the requests of another.

Word Theater

YouTube: Funny Cats Compilation This cat is being really recalcitrant.

Word Constellation