Related: Is there a word that means deliberately ignorant, choosing to ignore? - but this seems to be more about ignoring things around you (head in the sand and so on).

Let's say that Person A explains something to Person B. If Person B understands this concept then B will need to admit that they were wrong previously.

Obduracy seems close. Willful ignorance seems close.

I'm wondering if there's a better term for it.

  • Obstinacy seems to be fit. (Obstinate: unreasonably determined, especially to act in a particular way and not to change at all, despite what anyone else says:.) May 20 '18 at 17:25
  • Obdurate does not necessarily mean willful.
    – lbf
    May 20 '18 at 17:26
  • 1
    I don’t know what you mean :) (I would use “wilful ignorance”).
    – user184130
    May 20 '18 at 17:31
  • 4
    disingenuous comes close, but it specifically implies deliberately pretending to fail to understand - or to know [something]. May 20 '18 at 17:31
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I think you should make disingenuous an answer.
    – user184130
    May 20 '18 at 20:57

I would use ‘abstruse’ which means ‘deliberately not understanding’.

Abstruse is perhaps best understood from its etymology - it means ‘to push away, to hide’ in Latin, and is the word I have most heard in spoken English conversations (I am English) to mean ‘deliberately not understanding’, or ‘making a thing of not understanding’. Online definitions of the word don’t capture its meaning very well - they say it means ‘esoteric or unclear’ but it means more ‘pushing the meaning away’.

Here’s an example of it in use:

‘Sir! You told me the washing machine would arrive on Thursday and be fully installed!’

‘Madam! You are being abstruse - we clearly told you it would come with a box of bits you have to install yourself!’

Note: when you accuse someone of ‘being abstruse’, it carries the meaning of ‘deliberately not understanding’ - often for the person’s own gain (in this case, she doesn’t want to set up the washing machine herself).

Whereas ‘an abstruse mathematical formula’ would tend to mean ‘difficult to comprehend’.

Definition Abstruse: ‘Difficult to comprehend’ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstruse

Etymology Abstruse: https://www.google.co.id/search?q=etymology+abstruse&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-id&client=safari

Another option is ‘obtuse’. This literally mean ‘off at an angle’ at an oblique angle - to the thing trying to be understood. It carries more of a sense of ‘being bone headed’ or just ‘not getting it’ than the deliberately obfuscating nature of ‘abstruse’.

Example: ‘When you say that you can’t simply put the key in the door, and open it, now, because someone else should be there to open it, you are being obtuse’.

Oh and then - obfuscating could also be good - it’s a verb that means ‘deliberately trying to hide the truth’. Putting obstacles in the way of the truth.

But abstruse is the most accurate for what you are looking for I feel.

  • I always enjoy your reading your explanations.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 20 '18 at 20:49
  • I can't find anything to support "being abstruse" to mean deliberately not understanding. The source you provide says it means "hard to understand" (so one wouldn't have to pretend not to understand!)
    – user184130
    May 20 '18 at 23:40
  • 1
    On the other hand, "deliberately obtuse" might be appropriate.
    – user184130
    May 20 '18 at 23:40


ob·tuse /əbˈt(y)o͞os,äbˈt(y)o͞os/

annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand. "he wondered if the doctor was being deliberately obtuse" (Google)


not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull. (dictionary.com)

Obtuse is the way some is acting. They may not understand; however, when all evidence is to the contrary, they my be "deliberately obtuse". The difference is why it is happening.


So you're just being deliberately daft, got it.


Someone arrogant could be described as having those traits, however other words to describe someone purposefully showing disregard to rules could be something like disobedience or dereliction (deliberate or conscious neglect; negligence; delinquency: dereliction of duty.)

:) hope this is what you are looking for

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