Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-træn-zê-jênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Adamantly uncompromising, immovably stubborn on a point or issue, utterly intractable.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an authentic orphan negative: we may be as intransigent as pleases us but even if we always give in, we can never be transigent. Why? No such word exists. When someone cannot be dissuaded from a point, he or she becomes an intransigent, characterized by intransigence or intransigency, either of which works fine.

In Play: This word implies resistance beyond stubbornness; it is the more literary term for bullheadedness: "The boss is absolutely intransigent on this: he says that Snoop Doggy Dogg's music isn't classical and so can't be played on the elevators." There are plenty of places around the house where today's Good Word comes in handy: "I don't understand why Mom so intransigently opposes my wearing a nose ring!"

Word History: Today's word was borrowed from intransigeant, the French makeover of Spanish los intransigentes, a term used to refer to extremist parties in the 19th century Spanish Cortes (legislature). The word comes from Latin in- "not, un-" + transigen(t)s "crossing over", the present participle of transigere "to come to an ageement". This verb comprises trans- "across" + agere "to act"; in fact, the past participle of agere is actus, the origin of English act. The present participle is agen(t)s "acting", the source of English agent. (We are certainly not intransigent when it comes to thanking Helen Barrett for suggesting today's wonderful Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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