Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

reactionary

[ree-ak-shuh-ner-ee]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective
  1. of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.
noun, plural re·ac·tion·ar·ies.
  1. a reactionary person.
Sometimes re·ac·tion·ist [ree-ak-shuh-nist] /riˈæk ʃə nɪst/.

Origin of reactionary

1830–40; reaction + -ary; compare French réactionnaire
Related formsre·ac·tion·ism, re·ac·tion·ar·y·ism, re·ac·tion·ar·ism [ree-ak-shuh-nuh-riz-uh m] /riˈæk ʃə nəˌrɪz əm/, nounan·ti·re·ac·tion·ar·y, noun, plural an·ti·re·ac·tion·ar·ies, adjectivehalf-re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjectivenon·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective, noun, plural non·re·ac·tion·ar·ies.sem·i·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective, noun, plural sem·i·re·ac·tion·ar·ies.un·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective
Can be confusedproactive reactionary reactive

Synonyms

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1, 2. ultraconservative.

Antonyms

1, 2. radical.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for reactionary

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Decidedly, he ought to have sold himself to the reactionary party.

  • Perhaps conservative is not the word; reactionary would be closer.

    Blood and Iron

    John Hubert Greusel

  • And I am not alone in resenting your reactionary tendencies.

    Scaramouche

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Being a reactionary, I still felt that woman's place was not in the Army or Navy.

  • We are not speaking of a reactionary revolution but of the "activist."

    The New Society

    Walther Rathenau


British Dictionary definitions for reactionary

reactionary

reactionist

adjective
  1. of, relating to, or characterized by reaction, esp against radical political or social change
noun plural -aries or -ists
  1. a person opposed to radical change
Derived Formsreactionism, 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

Word Origin and History for reactionary

adj.

1831, on model of French réactionnaire (19c.), from réaction (see reaction). In Marxist use, "tending toward reversing existing tendencies," opposed to revolutionary and used opprobriously in reference to opponents of communism, by 1858. As a noun, "person considered reactionary," especially in politics, one who seeks to check or undo political action, by 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

reactionary in Culture

reactionary

An extremely conservative person or position that not only resists change but seeks to return to the “good old days” of an earlier social order.

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