as obstinate as a mule.

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi,

If I want to say someone who is obstinate, is it very old-fashioned to say things like this:


She was/is as obstinate as a mule.


Thanks a lot
 
  • Sharifa345

    Senior Member
    USA
    US English, DR Spanish
    Hi,

    If I want to say someone who is obstinate, is it very old-fashioned to say things like this:


    She was/is as obstinate as a mule.


    Thanks a lot
    If you change "obstinate" to "stubborn," you have a very common expression.

    She's as stubborn as a mule.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Probably "stubborn" is commonly regarded as a set expression while the latter one is usually considered as a new but understandable phrase.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English, 1990-2011) has 11 occurrences of stubborn as a mule and none for obstinate as a mule.

    BNC (British National Corpus, 1980s-1993) has 3 occurrences of stubborn as a mule and none for obstinate as a mule.

    BUT the COHA (Corpus of Historical American English 1810s-2000) has 20 occurrences of stubborn as a mule and 19 occurrences of obstinate as a mule. Here's an example:

    Never would take my advice. Obstinate as a mule. But I'll pay her out yet, ha, ha! Forgery! Scandal, ha, ha! (Houghton Townley, The Scarlet Feather, 1909)
    Seems to confirm what other people have said. I think you can still say obstinate as a mule, but it sounds more literary.
     
    Last edited:

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Seems to confirm what other people have said. I think you can still say obstinate as a mule, but it sounds more literary.
    Indeed, "obstinate" sounds to me just a tad fancier, somehow. It did not strike me as something unheard of or inconceivable, though I couldn't, for the life of me, know why it seemed familiar. Now that I think of it, I may have picked it up at school from some ancient :D source, the kind used in my school books in the 80s and 90s.

    (Back then, anything written in the 30s to 50s and used as a sample of English in our books was considered to be contemporary English, latest fashion. The average age of the sources used was about 1.5 centuries :D)
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello,

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives an example of 'as obstinate as a mule':
    1809–12 M. Edgeworth Absentee xiii, She was as obstinate as a mule on that point.
     
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