persistent vs stubborn [AE]

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Tuan Vu

New Member
Hi everyone. I have an example: my friend is addicted to gambling. Many people have advised and encouraged him to give it up but he didnt take their advice at all. Should i say:
- This guy is so stubborn
- This guy is so persistent
What is the difference between them or they can be used interchangeably?
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  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    stubborn = refuse to change your mind about something
    persistent = to carry on doing something (even if it is difficult/dangerous).

    So 'stubborn' is the best word here. The guy refuses to listen and change his mind about his behaviour.

    He is 'persistent' in his behaviour (he carries on doing it no matter what anyone says.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    A person who is addicted is not "stubborn" or "persistent". They don't stop, because they are addicted.

    "Stubborn" means he refuses to agree that changing would be better. I have known many people who smoke cigarettes. None of them claimed that smoking cigarettes was not bad for your health.

    "Persistent" is used when someone is working towards a goal, and continues despite problems.
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think Dojibear has a good point.

    Being stubborn or persistent are traits of character, being addicted is an affliction. You can't stop because you are in thrall to your addiction.

    A stubborn person doesn't stop because he's pig-headed; a persistent person doesn't stop usually because he's confident he will succeed.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    What is the difference between them or they can be used interchangeably?

    I'm persistent; you're stubborn. 'Stubborn' isn't necessarily bad ; but it very often describes persistence in behaviour or beliefs you don't agree with and choose to see as bad. Smokers have a different view to their opponents of the balance between the certainty of pleasure and the possibility of ill-health. The smoker doesn't even 'refuse to agree' that not smoking is 'better' - he simply disagrees with the definition of 'better' and the notion that it has some kind of imperative value. The opponents of smoking, who often describe smokers as 'stubborn', usually do so with a negative intention, but that's often because they assume that their own views are self-evidently right.

    Actually, 'stubborn' can be used positively to describe someone. The fact is that these words have dozens of nuances in different contexts, so (as often with this kind of question) there is no simple answer to your question.

    Your first question, of course, which has a context, can be answered - as people have done.
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