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[ri-fawrm] /rɪˈfɔrm/
the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc.:
social reform; spelling reform.
an instance of this.
the amendment of conduct, belief, etc.
verb (used with object)
to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc.
to cause (a person) to abandon wrong or evil ways of life or conduct.
to put an end to (abuses, disorders, etc.).
Chemistry. to subject to the process of reforming, as in refining petroleum.
verb (used without object)
to abandon evil conduct or error:
The drunkard promised to reform.
(initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of Reform Jews or Reform Judaism:
a Reform rabbi.
Origin of reform
1300-50; (v.) Middle English reformen < Middle French reformer, Old French < Latin refōrmāre (see re-, form); (noun) partly derivative of the v., partly < French réforme
Related forms
reformable, adjective
reformability, reformableness, noun
reformative, adjective
reformatively, adverb
reformativeness, noun
reformingly, adverb
antireform, adjective
misreform, verb
prereform, adjective
proreform, adjective
self-reform, noun
superreform, noun, verb (used with object)
unreformable, adjective
unreformative, adjective
Can be confused
re-form, reform.
1. correction, reformation, betterment, amelioration. 4. better, rectify, correct, amend, emend, ameliorate, repair, restore.
1. deterioration. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for reformative
Historical Examples
  • Its primary purpose is to aid in a reformative or educational process.

    The Holy Earth L. H. Bailey
  • The idealism of the eighteenth century was not reformative and humanistic, but revolutionary and humanitarian.

  • The moral hump is tolerated, even patronised in reformative institutions, but the physical hump, never!

    London's Underworld Thomas Holmes
  • Mr. Oman (Byzantine Empire, p. 145) takes the popular view as to the reformative effect of Christianity.

    The Evolution of States J. M. Robertson
  • Therefore: reformative rgimes should function so as to free such prisoners of shackles forged by their lower selves.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
  • Those highest up in reformative councils have obligingly lettered reformative measures to his hand.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
  • He would be out to help make the best use of all reformative tools and to cordinate them.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
  • The keynote of reformative harmony is struck in a prison rgime that ministers meticulously to marketable knowledge and skill.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
  • David had always understood that prisons in their object were not only punitive—they were reformative.

    To Him That Hath Leroy Scott
  • The Benninghausen Labour House makes no such wreck of its own reformative work.

    The Vagrancy Problem. William Harbutt Dawson
British Dictionary definitions for reformative


(transitive) to improve (an existing institution, law, practice, etc) by alteration or correction of abuses
to give up or cause to give up a reprehensible habit or immoral way of life
(chem) to change the molecular structure of (a hydrocarbon) to make it suitable for use as petrol by heat, pressure, and the action of catalysts
an improvement or change for the better, esp as a result of correction of legal or political abuses or malpractices
a principle, campaign, or measure aimed at achieving such change
improvement of morals or behaviour, esp by giving up some vice
Derived Forms
reformable, adjective
reformative, adjective
reformer, noun
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin reformāre to form again
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 reformative



c.1300, "to convert into another and better form," from Old French reformer "rebuild, reconstruct, recreate" (12c.), from Latin reformare "to form again, change, transform, alter," from re- "again" (see re-) + formare "to form" (see form (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1580s.

Meaning "to bring (a person) away from an evil course of life" is recorded from early 15c.; of governments, institutions, etc., from early 15c. Related: Reformed; reforming. Reformed churches (1580s) usually are Calvinist as opposed to Lutheran. Reformed Judaism (1843) is a movement initiated in Germany by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Reform school is attested from 1859.



"any proceeding which brings back a better order of things," 1660s, from reform (v.) and in some uses from French réforme. As a branch of Judaism from 1843.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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