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Insubordinate vs Rebellious vs Mutinous vs Seditious vs Factious vs Contumacious

Insubordinate, rebelliousmutinousseditiousfactiouscontumacious mean having or showing defiance or indifference to constituted authority.

Insubordinate is used primarily in reference to a person whose status is that of a subordinate and especially of a member of an organized group (as a force, a crew, or a staff) under the control of a head (as a military or naval officer, a chief, or a master) who is responsible for their service as individuals and their discipline as a group; the term implies disobedience to orders or infraction of rules either as a particular instance or as a habit.

Rebellious implies disaffection and insubordination; it may refer to a state of mind or to a temperamental tendency, but more often it suggests active or organized resistance.

Mutinous is a stronger and more derogatory term than rebellious which may imply justifiable resistance, for it suggests the refusal to obey the lawful demands or commands of an officer in charge, especially a military, naval, or ship’s officer, with the result that there is no longer discipline and efficiency in the group or, if the mutiny is successful, that a new and usually unlawful control is set up.

Mutinous is also frequently applied to active forces (as passions, winds, or waters) that are exceedingly turbulent or uncontrollable.

Seditious implies treasonable activities and often specifically a stirring up of discontent or of opposition to or rebellion against the government.

Factious stresses the contentious, perverse, or turbulent provocation of party spirit or a tendency to break up into embittered and irreconcilable factions. Only when it implies as a result the destruction of peace in the group as a whole does it suggest indifference to or defiance of constituted authority; very frequently it suggests the opposition of legislative groups or blocs to the government.

Contumacious is found chiefly in legal and ecclesiastical use. It implies persistent, willful, or open disobedience of the orders of a court or of one’s superiors; often, it specifically suggests contempt of court by a bold refusal to obey a summons or subpoena, or open and stubborn defiance of laws or orders that are seldom disobeyed.