Obstinate/Persistent/Persevering

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GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello everyone,
What is the difference between the two adjectives? His persistant refusal caused a lot of trouble. His obstinate refusal caused a lot of trouble. Don't they both mean "keep trying in a determined way"?
What about persevering? If you want to achieve something, you have to be very persevering/persistant? To me they look very similar, but there is a difference, I think.


Thank you in advance
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I usually hear and see "obstinate" used with the negative meaning "stubborn". "Persistent" and "perseverant" are adjectives that are often used with a positive meaning. I don't hear "persevering" much.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Thanks owlman and sorry for the late reply,
    I have been busy throughout the day :S. Does that mean that I could say "My obstinate refusal caused a lot of trouble and the deal went south". and "If you want to become a good doctor, you have to be very, very persistant".?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome. You can certainly say those things, Gandalf, and they will make sense.

    It would be harder to find a positive use for "obstinate" although I'm sure somebody has tried. Given the vast corpus of written English - particularly now that so many people post their comments on the internet - you can find examples of nearly any usage.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Yes, of course. My first sentence doesn't contain any negative forms, but it's meaning is rather negative I guess. Do you think that the former is possitive?

    Thanks a lot, owlman ;)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    The sentence that uses "obstinate" sounds negative. If you actually wrote that sentence in a letter, you wouldn't be happy about "your obstinate refusal."

    The sentence that uses "persistent" sounds like a neutral statement of fact.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Hmm...it sounds negative, but it is a bad one? The second one sounds neutral to you? Hm...the speaker was telling someone not to give up and try hard. Is it impossible to use it that way? I am a bit confused.
    Thanks for the corrections
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To me, persistent is neutral and determined by context:

    "He worked for 2 years to solve that problem and never gave up; he is certainly persistent." - persistent = good: he is dedicated.
    "I cannot stand the man! His persistent questions on the same subject show he has no understanding at all." - persistent = bad: he is irritates people by constant questions.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    His persistent refusal caused a lot of trouble. :tick: = he always refused
    His obstinate refusal caused a lot of trouble. :tick: = he would not listen to anyone else and he refused (once.)
     
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