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[ri-bel-yuh s] /rɪˈbɛl yəs/
defying or resisting some established authority, government, or tradition; insubordinate; inclined to rebel.
pertaining to or characteristic of rebels or rebellion.
(of things) resisting treatment; refractory.
Origin of rebellious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin rebelliōsus, equivalent to Latin rebelli(ō) rebellion + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
rebelliously, adverb
rebelliousness, noun
half-rebellious, adjective
half-rebelliously, adverb
half-rebelliousness, noun
nonrebellious, adjective
nonrebelliously, adverb
nonrebelliousness, noun
quasi-rebellious, adjective
quasi-rebelliously, adverb
semirebellious, adjective
semirebelliously, adverb
semirebelliousness, noun
unrebellious, adjective
unrebelliously, adverb
unrebelliousness, noun
1. defiant, insurgent, mutinous, seditious, rebel, refractory, disobedient, contumacious. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rebellious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I had a wild feeling altogether I wanted my love, rebellious, unrelenting, anyhow!

    Man and Maid Elinor Glyn
  • Tillie, afraid of her rebellious spirit, went to prayer meeting.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Her eyes glittered up at him, defiant, rebellious, fiercely mocking.

    Shadows of Flames Amelie Rives
  • At last it lost its power, and could not help her in checking her rebellious thoughts.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • He is said to have prayed for the success of the Emperor's rebellious son.

British Dictionary definitions for rebellious


showing a tendency towards rebellion
(of a problem, etc) difficult to overcome; refractory
Derived Forms
rebelliously, adverb
rebelliousness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rebellious

early 15c., from Latin rebellis (see rebel (adj.)) + -ous. Related: Rebelliously; rebelliousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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