I was watching the movie Lincoln last night in which Thadeus Stevens, an abolitionist refers to Lincoln as a 'capitulating compromiser'.

And that got me thinking about a term that could be used to describe Stevens who was a much strong defender of equality when compared to Lincoln. How do you refer to someone who adamantly refuses to compromise? I came up with 'adamant defender' but it doesn't have the same effect as the original. What do you think would be a better alternative?


obstinate. enter link description here

a. Stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action; obdurate. b. Characterized by such adherence: an obstinate refusal.

As in:

He was an obstinate negotiator, unyielding in his thinking!


intransigent, both verb and noun

not willing to compromise; obstinately maintaining an attitude
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an intransigent person, esp in politics
Collins English Dictionary

  • That's perfect actually. Mar 26 '18 at 17:48
  • @Abhishek Mhatre You'll want to be careful though, this word, like all others words used so far carry a connotation of stubborness, it's not may or may not be positive. More general terms are principled and incorruptible.
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 26 '18 at 17:53

How about an "uncompromising holdout". Couldn't think of one with nice alliteration, though.

  • I know, it is really difficult to find a positive term. I came up with "unyielding fundamentalist" but the contemporary religious connation gives it a bad vibe. Mar 26 '18 at 17:46
  • I meant having the same letter or sound at the beginning of the words (as "capitulating compromiser") does. I did not see the movie, so I do not know the context. Consider that one who capitulates and compromises could be one who will give up on their own morals and ideology simply to reach a settlement. I'm not sure if that is such a wonderful thing. Likewise, something antithetical to the "capitulating compromiser" may not be all that positive either---someone who cannot compromise at all.
    – m_a_s
    Mar 26 '18 at 18:46
  • People generally preceive principled and unwavering public figure in a positive maneer and pragmatic ones in a negative maneer. That is why JFK is so much more popular than LBJ. I find it slightly puzzling that we cannot find a positive term for the former though plenty of harsh and negative ones for the latter. Mar 26 '18 at 19:22
  • That may be true, but I think that JFK is more popular than LBJ for many reasons: JFK started the civil rights "ball" in motion; JFK was better looking and affable; LBJ was largely responsible for the entrenching the US in Vietnam (marking him forever as a villain regardless of his other accomplishments); and JFK was martyred. Also, historical views can and will change as future people look at history through lenses colored by their cultures and experiences.
    – m_a_s
    Mar 26 '18 at 19:42
  • I think you are right about JFK v LBJ. A better example would be Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sen. Sanders is clearly a populist with a relatively unchanging set of beliefs and values while Sec. Clinton is a much more more prudential and ideologically flexible. People generally like the former more than the latter but also find him and his initiatives impractical. Mar 26 '18 at 20:49

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