a person who tries to apply some doctrine or theory without sufficient regard for practical considerations; an impractical theorist.


dogmatic about others' acceptance of one's ideas; fanatical: a doctrinaire preacher.
merely theoretical; impractical.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a doctrinaire.

Origin of doctrinaire

From French, dating back to 1810–20; see origin at doctrine, -aire
Related formsdoc·tri·nair·ism, nounnon·doc·tri·naire, adjectiveo·ver·doc·tri·naire, adjectiveun·doc·tri·naire, adjective
Can be confuseddoctrinal doctrinaire

Synonyms for doctrinaire

Antonyms for doctrinaire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for doctrinaire

Contemporary Examples of doctrinaire

  • Bachmann is so doctrinaire she seems unlikely to be a serious contender in the general election.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Michele, You’re No Reagan

    Jack W. Germond

    July 11, 2011

  • In this selective narrative, the only path to truth is doctrinaire conservatism.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Glenn Beck Declares War

    John Avlon

    February 20, 2010

  • Hatch pushed for justices from the “mainstream” rather than “doctrinaire liberals.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Naming the Obama Court

    Scott Horton

    February 8, 2009

Historical Examples of doctrinaire

British Dictionary definitions for doctrinaire



stubbornly insistent on the observation of the niceties of a theory, esp without regard to practicality, suitability, etc
theoretical; impractical


a person who stubbornly attempts to apply a theory without regard to practical difficulties
Derived Formsdoctrinairism or doctrinarism, noundoctrinarian, 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 doctrinaire

1820, from French doctrinaire "impractical person," originally "adherent of doctrines" (14c.), from Latin doctrina (see doctrine).

At first used in the context of French politics, contemptuously applied by rival factions to those who tried to reconcile liberty with royal authority after 1815. Hence, anyone who applies doctrine without making allowance for practical considerations (1831). As an adjective, from 1834.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper