I am looking for a word for the quality of being un-deliberately uncooperative?

So not the likes of "stubborn" which has a connotation of deliberate uncooperativeness to reason or what-have-you, but I am distinctly looking for a word that captures a much more sympathetic sense as to why one is not listening or giving in.

The word could have a connotation of "dim-wittedness".

I did find the word "pig-headed" which means "stupidly obstinate", but I am also looking for a word that would have existed in the 17th century, as the word is being used in a period-piece, and the before mentioned meaning is attested rom 1788, so there is no luck there.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

1 Answer 1


I suggest obtuse.

OED has

Annoyingly unperceptive or slow to understand; stupid; insensitive. Also, of a remark, action, etc.: exhibiting dullness, stupidity or insensitivity; clumsy, unsubtle.

1509 S. Hᴀᴡᴇs Pastime of Pleasure (1845) xɪɪɪ. 113 I am but yonge, it is to me obtuse Of these maters to presume to endyte.
a1586 Sɪʀ P. Sɪᴅɴᴇʏ Lady of May in Arcadia (1598) sig. Bbb5v Thus must I vniforme my speech to your obtuse conceptions.
1602 J. Mᴀʀsᴛᴏɴ Antonios Reuenge ɪ. iii. sig. B2 I scorne to retort the obtuse ieast of a foole.
1606 W. Wᴀʀɴᴇʀ Continuance Albions Eng. xᴠɪ. civ. 408 Obtuse in phrase.
1667 J. Mɪʟᴛᴏɴ Paradise Lost xɪ. 541 Thy Senses then Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forgoe.

It was known with that meaning in the seventeenth century, and has the happy advantage of being in use still:

1992 Daily Tel. (BNC) 5 Apr. 13 Kohl...will have to live with a politically obtuse gesture that is being compared to his appearance with American President Ronald Reagan [etc.].

  • That is great. I think this works wonderfully! Oct 28, 2020 at 11:33

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