English Synonyms and Antonyms
Balky, mulish, obstinate, and stubborn are synonyms of restive only in an infrequent if not obsolete use; the supposed sense of "tending to rest," "standing stubbornly still," is scarcely supported by any examples, and those cited to support that meaning often fail to do so. The disposition to offer active resistance to control by any means whatever is what is commonly indicated by restive in the best English speech and literature. Dryden speaks of "the pampered colt" as "restiff to the rein;" but the rein is not used to propel a horse forward, but to hold him in, and it is against this that he is "restiff." A horse may be made restless by flies or by martial music, but with no refractoriness; the restive animal impatiently resists or struggles to break from control, as by bolting, flinging his rider, or otherwise. With this the metaphorical use of the word agrees, which is always in the sense of such terms as impatient, intractable, rebellious, and the like; a people restive under despotism are not disposed to "rest" under it, but to resist it and fling it off.
fidgety, fractious, fretful, frisky, impatient, intractable, mulish, mutinous, obstinate, rebellious, recalcitrant, refractory, resentful, restiff, restive, restless, skittish, stubborn, unruly, vicious
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