1. hard or impossible to manage; stubbornly disobedient: a refractory child.
  2. resisting ordinary methods of treatment.
  3. difficult to fuse, reduce, or work, as an ore or metal.

noun, plural re·frac·to·ries.

  1. a material having the ability to retain its physical shape and chemical identity when subjected to high temperatures.
  2. refractories, bricks of various shapes used in lining furnaces.


  1. unmanageable or obstinate
  2. med not responding to treatment
  3. (of a material) able to withstand high temperatures without fusion or decomposition

noun plural -ries

  1. a material, such as fireclay or alumina, that is able to withstand high temperatures: used to line furnaces, kilns, etc

“stubborn, obstinate, perverse,” 1610s (earlier refractorious, 1550s, refractary, c.1600), from Latin refractarius “obstinate, stubborn,” from past participle stem of refringere (see refraction). Related: Refractorily; refractoriness.


  1. Resistant to treatment, as a disease.
  2. Unresponsive to stimuli, as a muscle or nerve fiber.

  1. Having a high melting point. Ceramics that are made from clay and minerals are often refractory, as are metal oxides and carbides. Refractory materials are often used as liners in furnaces.
  2. Resistant to heat.
  3. Of or relating to a refractory period.

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