Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 29th, 2016
Episode 438 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 29, 2016 is: obstreperous \ub-STREP-uh-rus\ adjective 1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous 2 : stubbornly resistant to control : unruly Examples: After two months at sea with dwindling food supplies and declining confidence in the captain, the ship's crew became obstreperous and began to plot a mutiny. "It is Rob she calls for when crankily refusing to go to bed, and when Alan attempts to calm her she grows only more obstreperous." — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times, 9 Nov. 2015 Did you know? The handy Latin prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," "against," or "toward," occurs in many Latin and English words, often in alternate forms. Obstreperous comes from ob- plus strepere, a verb meaning "to make a noise," so someone who is obstreperous is 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 not played a role in the formation of any other notable English words, but ob- words abound; these include obese, obnoxious, occasion, offend, omit, oppress, and oust.