Is Being Called Stubborn An Insult?

Well, Is It? 

You probably have had someone call you obstinate, stubborn or willful. It sure is really “not nice” when someone says those words to you. 

However, it depends on the situation in which you were given the label. Say for instance, you were being adamant about doing something that was going to be detrimental to you. And someone was trying to stop you, but you wouldn’t budge. Now, that’s you being stubborn. 

On the flip side, if you were adamant about doing something that would benefit you, and you wouldn’t give in to dissuasion, then “stubborn” would really be offensive. 

What Does it Mean When Somebody Calls You Stubborn?

Is Being Called Stubborn An Insult?

Let us look at the definition of the word “stubborn”, before we continue. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word stubborn means “refusing to move or to change one’s opinion; obstinate; firmly resisting; persistent in doing something.”

When a person calls you stubborn, it means that the person thinks you are resisting whatever action that is being taken out on you. Action in this case could mean unsolicited advice, command, or argument; just basically anything that you have refused to give in to. 

Being called stubborn may or may not be an insult, as was said earlier. Most times a person could jokingly call you stubborn, and you may be offended. It will be good for you to let such a person know that you do not like to be called stubborn. 

Another way one can call you stubborn, is by metaphorically comparing you to a goat, or in simile, a mule. You would hear something like “you are as stubborn as a mule”, or “you are a goat.”

This does not mean that you have been called an animal. These comparisons are only used, because well, these animals are really stubborn. But it really does feel annoying to be compared to a goat.

Sometimes, you can be called stubborn as a result of your continuous show of persistence, and resistance. If one keeps at a habit, it becomes a character.

If you keep at refusing to take people’s opinions (when it is sensible to), keep at persisting on doing as you please (even when it would cost you something along the line), then you would be labelled as a stubborn person. 

When someone calls you stubborn, you should take out some time to understand why they called you that. It could be that such a person was only exaggerating, and may have called you that in anger. It could also be that you are rightfully stubborn (which may be really hard to admit). 

If the situation happens to be the former, that you are indeed not stubborn, then approach the person and tell such person that you find being called stubborn offensive.

However, if the situation is the latter, then you should try to work on yourself. This of course does not mean that you have to agree to everything everyone asks of you. 

In essence, it means that you are obstinate or willful, when someone calls you stubborn. Whatever the situation is, being called stubborn is not flattery. It either requires you to work on yourself, or let someone know that you cannot be forced into doing what they want. 

Why Being Called Stubborn May Be An Insult 

Like was earlier said, the classification of being called stubborn as an insult or not, is dependent on the situation. In this section, we will look at why we should consider being called stubborn, as an insult. Read on. 

Let us look at an instance; imagine a scenario where you were asked to do something against your beliefs (say going to work or school on Christmas day), and you know that doing such a thing would mean you compromising your faith, or what you believe in, which you do not want to do.

It could even cause you some kind of harm, if you did such. You sure would refuse to do such, right?

Now, let us look at another instance; say you were working a 9–5 at an organisation, and you were very dedicated to your job.

Prompt to deliver when needed, and all that stuff. Now, you are lucky to be on leave for a day. This is after having a long, hard week or month of working. 

You need this leave to rest, and be prepared for work again. And your boss asks you to come to work on that day. Remember that you would readily run to work if not for the leave. But now, you cannot. You would refuse, right? 


In these circumstances, it is understandable when you refuse to give in to persuasions or pleas. It is understandable, because in situations like this, you are giving a “positive no.”

Of course, there would be many attempts to make you give an answer you did not want to give, or do what you did not want to do. But for your own good, you are saying no.

This is where being called stubborn becomes an insult. It is an insult, because you have been or are being called obstinate for refusing to do something that any other person would have also refused to do. 

You therefore, can tell whoever has called you stubborn, that you consider the word offensive, and would love to be apologised to. 

In this case, you have nothing to worry about; it is the person’s problem, and since they have trouble with you being reasonably “stubborn,” they should have to work on themselves, and how much they want people to do what they want. 

It is really bad when someone thinks you are acting willfully when you decide to let yourself come first, before other people’s opinions and requests. Note that you can let others come before you, but in a case where you must save yourself before others, you should. 

You are not “stubborn” for refusing to do something that is against your beliefs (which should not be harmful to others). You are not obstinate about considering your own self.

You are not stubborn for refusing to be bent unreasonably (and there is no reasonable coercion). Therefore, when you are called stubborn in cases like this, it is okay to be offended. It is okay to refuse. It is an insult. 

Why Being Called Stubborn Isn’t An Insult 

In this section, we will get to understand why being tagged as stubborn is not an insult. Again, you should be reminded that we said that classifying being called stubborn as an insult, is dependent on the situation. Now, let us go into it. 

Let us begin with an instance: imagine a situation where you are asked to do something that you are supposed to do. Normally, you do not need to be reminded of what you are supposed to be doing, or supposed to have done. But in this case, you have refused to do that which is your duty. 

Now in this case, let us say you are supposed to pay your rent for a property you possess. You know that the person who rented out that property to you, needs the rent to make a living, but you have adamantly refused to pay the rent.

Despite the person’s persuasions, you do not want to pay this rent. Let us also take it you have the money to pay this rent. 

Let us look at another instance; in this instance, you have decided to keep doing something that is harmful to yourself, and people around you. You have also adamantly refused to stop doing this, despite the pleas and persuasions from people around you. 

Let us say you blast loud music in your house, and because it is very loud, it causes nuisance in your neighbourhood.

Your neighbours have pleaded with you to keep it down, they have threatened to call the police, and may have also talked rudely to you to keep your music down. But you would not just budge.

A final instance would be a case of a child being disrespectful, and refusing to act right. Such a child could be a bully at school, and would not cease from hurting other children, even after you have repeatedly told him or her that being a bully at school is not good. 

In situations like these, it is very right that you are called stubborn. No, it is not an insult. If you feel bad about being called stubborn for refusing to stop doing what causes harm or hurt to other people, you should work on yourself. 

You have the right to demand apologies from whoever called you stubborn, but you might sound ridiculous asking for an apology when you outrightly refused to be the opposite of stubborn. You in fact owe such a person an apology for being “stubborn” as you are being, or have been described. 

It is in fact, a fact if you are called stubborn in this case, because you have decided to act unreasonably at the detriment of other people. And in the process of your detrimental action, you could also be causing harm to yourself.  

If you do not want to be called stubborn, then you should not act unreasonably, and carelessly. To avoid being called stubborn, be sure that you are acting right; with yourself, and with the people around you. 

Leave a Comment