I'd like to express that I went to great efforts to fix an [adjective] bug in my code. Neither "pernicious" nor "persistent" quite match the quality I'm trying to describe. Is there a word that means "hard to eradicate" but not necessarily that the problem itself was severe? The problems caused by the bug were fairly insignificant, but fixing it was a huge pain.

  • I like to say a problem has metastasized.
    – Robusto
    Feb 24 '15 at 17:18
  • "Unflushable" coupling wisdom :-) Feb 24 '15 at 17:18
  • 2
    'persistent' doesn't connote severity, what's wrong with it? Feb 24 '15 at 17:27
  • A persistent bug sounds to me like a bug that has existed for a long time without necessarily resisting efforts to eliminate it. Perhaps it is the most appropriate term though.
    – Altay_H
    Feb 24 '15 at 17:43
  • hard-bitten? :)
    – 0..
    Feb 24 '15 at 17:48

You could say: "I went to great efforts to fix a stubborn bug in my code."

Google defines stubborn as:

difficult to move, remove, or cure.

  • Stubborn sounds the best to me in this context, and that definition is perfect. Thanks.
    – Altay_H
    Feb 24 '15 at 20:56


  1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often followed by of):

    • a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits.
  2. highly retentive:

    • a tenacious memory.
  3. pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate.

"I went to great efforts to fix a tenacious bug in my code."

  • Also persistent. Feb 24 '15 at 18:09
  • @JohnLawler OP specifically said he wasn't looking for persistent. Feb 24 '15 at 18:09
  • OP's preference has nothing to do with the meaning of persistent in this context. Feb 24 '15 at 18:14
  • @JohnLawler I don't disagree with you. Just pointing out that the word has already been mentioned. Feb 24 '15 at 18:53
  • If we keep it up, persistent will never go away. Feb 24 '15 at 19:17

Obstinate is a good word for this, as it describes something that is undesirable and persistent. From Dictionary.com:

  1. firmly or stubbornly adhering to one's purpose, opinion, etc.; not yielding to argument, persuasion, or entreaty.
  2. characterized by inflexible persistence or an unyielding attitude; inflexibly persisted in or carried out: obstinate advocacy of high tariffs.
  3. not easily controlled or overcome: the obstinate growth of weeds.
  4. not yielding readily to treatment, as a disease.

If you want a $2 metaphor, you can try Obdurate (Dictionary.com):

  1. unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
  2. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

Intractable is my favourite for this sort of thing; not hard, but annoying and difficult to get to grips with.


Resilient would be appropriate.

From Merriam-Webster:

:  characterized or marked by resilience: as
a :  capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
b :  tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Definition 'b' seems especially apt.

In science and medicine literature people often talk about bacteria (something undesirable, like a computer bug) being resilient to efforts used to try and eradicate it.

  • "Resilient bug" is quite close to an oxymoron Feb 25 '15 at 1:07
  • @zimbra314 Do you think so? I know that if I have to debug code and it seems like I'm straightening up every line, and making all kinds of changes, and yet the bug remains I would consider that resilient. But in the sense of computer security, I can see what you mean by a bug maybe being oxymoronic.
    – spacetyper
    Feb 25 '15 at 2:51
  • My area happens to be fault tolerant/resilient computing( which certainly doesn't give me authority over usage of the word resilient). I, therefore, feel a positive connotation attached with the word resilient. Thus, I see an absurdity in the term "Resilient bug" Feb 25 '15 at 3:36

When I have longstanding bugs in my code they end up entrenched in all sorts of different processes.

Oxford Dictionaries, entrench:

1 [with object] Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely: 'ageism is entrenched in our society'


Programming bugs and math problems can be recalcitrant, at times. The word comes from a root calc-, calx heel (of a donkey or horse, for example). Thus, a stubborn problem that 'kicks back'. I first heard this from an MIT math prof describing a type of differential equation, and merriam-webster led me to the definition ;)


Maybe use entangled or defiant, if you're in to anthropomorphizing. I also second obstinate.

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