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Borrowed from Latin obstreperus, first attested circa 17th c.. Compare obstropulous.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əbˈstɹɛp.əɹ.əs/, /ɒbˈstɹɛp.əɹ.əs/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əbˈstɹɛpəɹəs/, /ɑːbˈstɹɛpəɹəs/
  • (file)


obstreperous (comparative more obstreperous, superlative most obstreperous)

  1. Attended by, or making, a loud and tumultuous noise; boisterous.
    Synonyms: clamorous, loud, noisy, vociferous
    • 1809, Diedrich Knickerbocker [pseudonym; Washington Irving], chapter 7, in A History of New York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), New York, N.Y.: Inskeep & Bradford, [], →OCLC:
      [O]n a clear still summer evening you may hear from the battery of New York the obstreperous peals of broad-mouthed laughter of the Dutch negroes at Communipaw.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XXII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 277:
      This disposition his subsequent life had not tended to change in any considerable degree, though increased knowledge, with much observation, and a little reading, had rendered the gaiety of the young man a very different thing to the obstreperous mirth of the boy.
    • 1855, Robert Browning, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came:
      [] my hope
      Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
      With that obstreperous joy success would bring
    • 1918, Henry B. Fuller, “chapter 3”, in On the Stairs:
      He developed an obstreperous baritone [] and he made himself rather preponderant, whether he happened to know the song or not.
  2. Stubbornly defiant; disobedient; resistant to authority or control, whether in a noisy manner or not.
    Synonyms: recalcitrant, uncooperative, unruly; see also Thesaurus:obstinate
    • October 1827, Sir Walter Scott, The Journal of Sir Walter Scott:
      [W]e came to Whittingham. Thence to Newcastle, where an obstreperous horse retarded us for an hour at least.
    • 1903, Lucy Maud Montgomery, “A Sandshore Wooing”, in Short Stories: 1902-1903:
      My dress was draggled, my hat had slipped back, and the kinks and curls of my obstreperous hair were something awful.
    • 1915, Stewart Edward White, “chapter 70”, in The Gray Dawn:
      They reviled the committee collectively and singly; bragged that they would shoot Coleman, Truett, Durkee, and some others at sight; flourished weapons, and otherwise became so publicly and noisily obstreperous that the committee decided they needed a lesson.
    • 2015, 3 min from the start, in Penny Dreadful, season 2, episode 9:
      This is what your boyfriend did, honey. When he was in one of his more obstreperous moods.
    • 2022 October 22, Maureen Dowd, “Ralph Fiennes, Master of Monsters”, in The New York Times[1]:
      He said he loved making movies like Luca Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash,” in which his charismatic, obstreperous character, Harry Hawkes, a music producer described by the Italian director as “a pagan fawn,” does a Dionysian dance to the Rolling Stones song “Emotional Rescue.”

Derived terms[edit]