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Obstreperous is a word that has been in use since about 1600. We will examine the definition of obstreperous, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Obstreperous describes someone or something that is out of control, unruly, difficult to control, unrestrainable, noisy, resistant. Obstreperous is an adjective and is most often used to describe a person such as an uncooperative child, or an animal such as a stubborn donkey, but not exclusively. Obstreperous is an adjective, related words are the adverb obstreperously and the noun obstreperousness. The word obstreperous is derived from the Latin word obstreperus, which means making cacaphonous noise, from the Latin ob meaning against and strepere meaning make noise.


An old legal anecdote—attributed to such legal notables as Mae West and the Earl of Birkenhead—depicts a frustrated judge asking an obstreperous lawyer, “Are you displaying contempt of court?” (The Atlantic Magazine)

An Italian correspondent took Mr Macron to task for comparing Mr Berlusconi to Mr Orbán, the leader of an increasingly obstreperous bloc of former east European countries. (The Irish Times)

If cold and wolves weren’t enough, Doucette must contend with an obstreperous male counsellor and a bunch of angry parents — and that’s before some kids deliberately disappear, and head not to Montreal but north, deeper into the frozen bush. (The Winnipeg Free Press)

Many times, I have seen Mr. Mandell in court stand back quietly and patiently while the other attorneys obstreperously caused a commotion at the bench, and then step in at the appropriate moment and turn the tide in his client’s favor with a brief and skillfully crafted legal argument. (The Chicago Law Bulletin)