Word of the Day : November 13, 2018
recalcitrant \rih-KAL-suh-trunt\ adjective
1 : obstinately defiant of authority or restraint
2 a : difficult to manage or operate
b : not responsive to treatment
c : resistant
Did You Know?
Long before any human was dubbed "recalcitrant" in English (that first occurred in the 18th century), there were stubborn mules (and horses) kicking back their heels. The ancient Romans noted as much (Pliny the Elder among them), and they had a word for it: recalcitrare, which literally means "to kick back." (Its root calc-, meaning "heel," is also the root of calcaneus, the large bone of the heel in humans.) Certainly Roman citizens in Pliny's time were sometimes willful and hardheaded—as attested by various Latin words meaning "stubborn"—but it wasn't until later that writers of Late Latin applied recalcitrare and its derivative adjective to humans who were stubborn as mules.
Aired November 13, 2018
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