Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 15, 2021 is:

obstreperous • ub-STREP-uh-rus  • adjective

1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous

2 : stubbornly resistant to control : unruly


“Throughout a long career, [Lawrence Ferlinghetti] showed courage, taste and willingness to put up with sometimes obstreperous writers for the sake of literature. He first won widespread renown by publishing Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and defending the book in a court case in 1957 when it was declared obscene.” — Benjamin Ivry, The Forward (New York), 24 Feb. 2021

“In Hollywood, [Eugene DeMarco had] gained renown as a barnstorming stunt pilot in films and commercials…. Within the small but global community of antique-aviation buffs, he continues to be held in awe, considered by many to be the most accomplished flier of dangerously obstreperous World War I airplanes.” — Marc Wortman, Vanity Fair, March 2021

Did you know?

The handy Latin prefix ob-, meaning “in the way,” “against,” or “toward,” occurs in many Latin and English words. Obstreperous comes from ob- plus strepere, a verb meaning “to make a noise,” so someone who is obstreperous can be thought of as literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. The word has been used in English since around the beginning of the 17th century. Strepere has had a limited impact on the English lexicon; in addition to obstreperous it seems only to have contributed strepitous and its synonym strepitant, which mean “characterized or accompanied by much noise”—that is, “noisy.” Ob- words, on the other hand, abound, and include such terms as obnoxious, occasion, offend, omit, oppress, and oust.

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