adjective1 : resisting control or authority : stubborn, unmanageable 2 : resistant to treatment or cure 3 : capable of enduring high temperatures
“In patients with severe asthma that is refractory to standard treatment, intravenous magnesium sulfate is widely used….” — Stephen C. Lazarus, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, August 19, 2010
“This, 2012, is Louis’ moment. Rewind a couple of years and his voice was higher, his face narrower and more worried. He was connecting, but only just. Now he’s expansive, authoritative, with bags of rough-edged charm. After years … of small clubs and refractory crowds, Louis has experience.” — James Parker, The Atlantic, May 2012
Did you know?
Refractory is from the Latin word refractarius. During the 17th century, it was sometimes spelled as refractary, but that spelling, though more in keeping with its Latin parent, had fallen out of use by the century’s end. Refractarius, like refractory, is the result of a slight variation in spelling. It stems from the Latin verb refragari, meaning “to oppose.” Although refractory often describes things that are unpleasantly stubborn or resistant (such as diseases and unruly audiences), not all senses of refractory are negative. Refractory clays and bricks, for example, are capable of withstanding high temperatures.