The definition of the word, "stubborn", in dictionary.com goes

"unreasonably obstinate; obstinately unmoving"

and in Longman Dictionary

" difficult to remove, deal with, or use "

Many of the examples these dictionaries provided are for describing a person that is hard to deal with. I wonder, can I say something is stubborn? If so, can I have some examples? If not, is there an adjective for saying something is hard to accomplish or uneasy to get rid of?

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    CDE: << Things that are stubborn are difficult to move, change, or deal with: He was famed for his stubborn resistance and his refusal to accept defeat. // Stubborn stains can be removed using a small amount of detergent. //// M-W difficult to handle, manage, or treat a stubborn cold //// [ Collins](collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/stubborn): _This treatment removes the most stubborn stains. // ... – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '19 at 17:53
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    The first and most stubborn problem was that of reductions in the number of aircraft. // RHK Webster's: difficult to handle, treat, etc.: a stubborn pain. This is really not suitable for ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '19 at 17:53
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's lacking reasonable research. Longman's includes 'stubborn stains', and Dictionary.com 'obstinately maintained, as a course of action: a stubborn resistance.... difficult to manage or suppress: a stubborn horse; a stubborn pain'. It would perhaps be more suited to ELL. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '19 at 19:36
  • "Uneasy" usually refers to an internal emotional state. It sounds stilted to use it when measuring the difficulty of a task. I would say "difficult to get rid of" -- or in this context "hard to accomplish or to get rid of". You could be uneasy about getting rid of something; this refers to your attitude rather than the process. – Tim Sparkles Nov 12 '19 at 20:28

Yes, inanimate objects can be stubborn. A mark left by grass or wine on clothing might be called a "stubborn stain," especially in an advertisement for a detergent claiming ability to wash away such a mark. This is exactly what is done in this ad from P&G (not an endorsement, merely an example usage).

As another example, consider a nut and bolt that have rusted together, and no amount of force on your wrench can make it move. Perhaps you might look for advice on the internet, on how to remove a "stubborn nut" (again, only an example, not an endorsement).

  • I see. I now know things can be physically stubborn. Now, can I state "Homeworks are stubborn" as a way to express something happens repeatedly, and that bothers you a lot? – YiLuo Nov 11 '19 at 16:56
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    Hmm. I suppose if there were a problem/ question on your homework that you were not able to solve or find an answer to, you could call that a stubborn problem. But the simple fact that you get assigned homework day after day, class after class, wouldn't fit what most native speakers think of as "stubborn." Instead, I might try one of these: thesaurus.com/browse/incessant – cobaltduck Nov 11 '19 at 17:01
  • Rather than "stubborn" per se, the asker seems to be looking for a way to express the notion of drudgery. A slog. – user46359 Nov 11 '19 at 20:18
  • Is this stubborn as a metaphor? – WendyG Nov 12 '19 at 10:00
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    @YiLuo "stubborn" (for both people and objects) generally implies that the usual methods one might use to make something/someone change or go away do not work in this case. Something which goes away but keeps coming back (like your homework example) would not generally be called stubborn (perhaps "persistent" instead, but that by itself doesn't really include the sense of annoyance that you seem to want). – Foogod Nov 12 '19 at 19:34

To express a way to express something happens repeatedly, and that bothers you a lot, you can say "It's a drag.."Homework is a drag".


Other options could be "slog" ("homework is a slog")... or "drudgery" ("homework is drudgery")...

  • This answer is based on a comment OP made on another answer. It's suggested to at least reference this, since if the other answer gets deleted, your answer seems irrelevant to the question at hand. As it stands, this answer doesn't really answer the question; though it is arguable whether OP's comment is the goal of using the answer to the posted question. – Flater Nov 12 '19 at 14:50

Mules and donkeys are often referred to as being stubborn. In fact, the word "mulish" is derived from "mule" and is a synonym for "stubborn".


Regarding stubborn Adjectives for saying something is hard to accomplish: DIFFICULT, CHALLENGING, TAXING. Adjectives meaning uneasy to get rid of: RETENTIVE, TENACIOUS, PERSEVERANT, ENDURING

  • References to the suggested words are expected for an answer to be considered a good answer. – Flater Nov 12 '19 at 14:53

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