Definition: A stubborn refusal to obey or comply with authority.
The word contumacy comes to us from the Latin word contumacia, meaning haughty or insolent, which itself came from the Latin word contumax, meaning insolent. Contumax has its roots in the word tumere, meaning to swell or be proud. From Latin it passed through Middle English in the form of contumacie and then into English.
Why this word?
Anyone who has ever dealt with a toddler has dealt with a contumacious personality. The world is all about them and if you attempt to curtail their exuberance and age-appropriate arrogance then you are an authority figure that must be fought. My little one hasn’t hit the terrible twos yet but we are already seeing signs of her stubbornness and independence. Anyone who knows a small child should have ample opportunity to use this word. It’s sure to apply to a fair number of adults as well, human nature being what it is.
How to use the word contumacy?
“The priest was excommunicated from the church on the grounds of egregious contumacy, shocking his parishioners and leaving a gaping hole in the community.”
“Having failed to show up for court to answer to the charge of drunk driving, Lindsay Lohan was accused of contumacy and convicted in absentia.”
“His contumacious and pugnacious nature had led to many more arrests than he would care to discuss, and an attitude towards authority that could not be remedied.”