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

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.


  • Sure, Karelin may have carried a refrigerator up eight flights of stairs, as the story goes, but Rulon invested a lot of hours pushing and tugging recalcitrant 1,000-pound cows. —Sports Illustrated
  • So is there a place in the collective cultural memory for a recalcitrant, unrepentant dreamer, a man who was too suspicious of commercialism, too private, ever to demand his place in musical history? —Rolling Stone
  • Ordered by his commander to punch the recalcitrant man repeatedly in the stomach to make him talk, Morgan writes, 'something happened to me. —Harper's Magazine
  • This year, 'no one expects the president to get less recalcitrant on spending,' said Stan Collender, a budget expert and managing director of Qorvis Communications. —USA Today

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