When speaking with someone recently I was continuously taken aback by how he could not concede even the slightest detail in my argument (which was not unreasonable), and it happened another time previously. Both times had to do with me pointing out 'error' in his action.

He very much exhibits that 'I cannot be wrong' attitude.

I first thought to call this arrogance or pride but he is not overbearing like arrogance demands and he does not show excessive self esteem that pride demands.

What is a word that can accurately describe this attitude?

  • 1
    I can't think of a word for it, but your question reminds me of this famous television incident. Maybe someday, your friend will say, "Okay, I'll admit it: I was wrouoouou."
    – J.R.
    Mar 14, 2013 at 10:46
  • Intellectual arrogance is certainly part of it.
    – Mitch
    May 5, 2013 at 15:55

5 Answers 5


He is simply being obstinate:

stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so

... or obdurate:

stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action

You can find similar words in a thesaurus.

  • Excellent. This is it exactly. Peremptory was very close. It was suggested at well.
    – user39425
    Mar 16, 2013 at 8:05

That person is being "self-righteous" or might have a superiority complex.

Self-righteous: convinced of one's own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others

  • NOAD's definition of self-righteous reads: "having or characterized by a certainty, esp. an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior." In this case, the "totally correct" part is what the O.P. seems to be looking for; however, when I hear this word used, it's usually applied to "moral superiority" – and many of the word's listed synonyms reflect that: sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, pious, moralizing, preachy, superior, hypocritical. In short, I think this word works (according to definition); nevertheless, a listener might think it's an ‘off’ word at first.
    – J.R.
    Mar 14, 2013 at 10:38
  • @J.R.: Yes, indeed at first this might seem to be "off" from what the OP is asking for but keeping in mind the meaning of the word would make it quite suitable for the context. In fact, I have often witnesses people using it in the specific context the OP has mentioned. Nevertheless I have also provided the meaning to clarify any similar doubts.
    – Sayan
    Mar 14, 2013 at 12:51
  • Because this is usually used to indicate religious behavior and/or fanaticism I do not think it is a good fit for this situation. Thank you though.
    – user39425
    Mar 16, 2013 at 7:59
  • @fredsbend: In context of religious behavior I would use the word "sanctimonious", not "self-righteous".
    – Sayan
    Mar 18, 2013 at 5:28

I think the word is peremptory, which describes a person's attitude as definitive; leaving no opportunity for denial or refusal.

  • Yes, this is very close. By this definition he was peremptory at times or his comments seems peremptory. However, I think obstinate fits it as well, though, fully. He was obstinate the whole time. +1
    – user39425
    Mar 16, 2013 at 8:04

He probably considers himself infallible, i.e. incapable of being wrong.

Merriam Webster: incapable of error


For "cannot be wrong", I'd have referred to him as narcissistic (a narcissist).