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[ree-ak-shuh-ner-ee] /riˈæk ʃəˌnɛr i/
of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.
noun, plural reactionaries.
a reactionary person.
Sometimes, reactionist [ree-ak-shuh-nist] /riˈæk ʃə nɪst/ (Show IPA).
Origin of reactionary
1830-40; reaction + -ary; compare French réactionnaire
Related forms
reactionism, reactionaryism, reactionarism
[ree-ak-shuh-nuh-riz-uh m] /riˈæk ʃə nəˌrɪz əm/ (Show IPA),
antireactionary, noun, plural antireactionaries, adjective
half-reactionary, adjective
nonreactionary, adjective, noun, plural nonreactionaries.
semireactionary, adjective, noun, plural semireactionaries.
unreactionary, adjective
Can be confused
proactive, reactionary, reactive.
1, 2. ultraconservative.
1, 2. radical. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.

    The Winged Men of Orcon David R. Sparks
  • We are not speaking of a reactionary revolution but of the "activist."

    The New Society Walther Rathenau
British Dictionary definitions for reactionary


/rɪˈækʃənərɪ; -ʃənrɪ/
of, relating to, or characterized by reaction, esp against radical political or social change
noun (pl) -aries, -ists
a person opposed to radical change
Derived Forms
reactionism, 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
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Word Origin and History for reactionary

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
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reactionary in Culture

reactionary definition

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 Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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