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[kuh n-sur-vuh-tiv] /kənˈsɜr və tɪv/
disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
cautiously moderate or purposefully low:
a conservative estimate.
traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness:
conservative suit.
(often initial capital letter) of or relating to the Conservative party.
(initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
having the power or tendency to conserve or preserve.
Mathematics. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
a supporter of conservative political policies.
(initial capital letter) a member of a conservative political party, especially the Conservative party in Great Britain.
a preservative.
Origin of conservative
1350-1400; < Late Latin conservātīvus, equivalent to Latin conservāt(us) (see conservation) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English conservatif < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related forms
conservatively, adverb
conservativeness, noun
anticonservative, adjective, noun
anticonservatively, adverb
anticonservativeness, noun
half-conservative, adjective
half-conservatively, adverb
hyperconservative, adjective, noun
hyperconservatively, adverb
hyperconservativeness, noun
nonconservative, adjective, noun
overconservative, adjective
overconservatively, adverb
overconservativeness, noun
pseudoconservative, adjective
pseudoconservatively, adverb
quasi-conservative, adjective
quasi-conservatively, adverb
semiconservative, adjective
semiconservatively, adverb
superconservative, adjective
superconservatively, adverb
superconservativeness, noun
unconservative, adjective
unconservatively, adverb
unconservativeness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for conservatively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is progressively conservative—or conservatively progressive.

    Chapters in Rural Progress Kenyon L. Butterfield
  • "So I have been informed," Mr. Hicks replied, conservatively.

    The Dude Wrangler

    Caroline Lockhart
  • The citations in the text have been conservatively modernised.

    Sir William Wallace A. F. Murison
  • "I believe that's the idea," said the Cap'n, conservatively.

  • The change you desire you work for conservatively, if at all.

  • conservatively dressed—matching coat and trousers of orange nylon tweed—royal blue half-brim bowler—carrying a blue brief case.

    The Penal Cluster Ivar Jorgensen (AKA Randall Garrett)
British Dictionary definitions for conservatively


favouring the preservation of established customs, values, etc, and opposing innovation
of, characteristic of, or relating to conservatism
tending to be moderate or cautious: a conservative estimate
conventional in style or type: a conservative suit
(med) (of treatment) designed to alleviate symptoms Compare radical (sense 4)
(physics) a field of force, system, etc, in which the work done moving a body from one point to another is independent of the path taken between them: electrostatic fields of force are conservative
a person who is reluctant to change or consider new ideas; conformist
a supporter or advocate of conservatism
adjective, noun
a less common word for preservative
Derived Forms
conservatively, adverb
conservativeness, noun


adjective (in Britain, Canada, and elsewhere)
of, supporting, or relating to a Conservative Party
of, relating to, or characterizing Conservative Judaism
a supporter or member of a Conservative Party
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 conservatively



late 14c., conservatyf, from Middle French conservatif, from Late Latin conservativus, from Latin conservatus, past participle of conservare (see conserve).

As a modern political tradition, conservatism traces to Edmund Burke's opposition to the French Revolution (1790), but the word conservative is not found in his writing. It was coined by his French disciples, (e.g. Chateaubriand, who titled his journal defending clerical and political restoration "Le Conservateur").

Conservative as the name of a British political faction first appeared in an 1830 issue of the "Quarterly Review," in an unsigned article sometimes attributed to John Wilson Croker. It replaced Tory (q.v.) by 1843, reflecting both a change from the pejorative name (in use for 150 years) and repudiation of some reactionary policies. Extended to similar spirits in other parties from 1845.

Strictly speaking, conservatism is not a political system, but rather a way of looking at the civil order. The conservative of Peru ... will differ greatly from those of Australia, for though they may share a preference for things established, the institutions and customs which they desire to preserve are not identical. [Russell Kirk (1918-1994)]
Phrases such as a conservative estimate make no sense etymologically. The noun is attested from 1831, originally in the British political sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conservatively in Medicine

conservative con·ser·va·tive (kən-sûr'və-tĭv)
Of or relating to treatment by gradual, limited, or well-established procedures; not radical.

con·ser'va·tive·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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conservatively in Culture

conservative definition

A descriptive term for persons, policies, and beliefs associated with conservatism.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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