(in the French Revolution) a member of a radical society or club of revolutionaries that promoted the Reign of Terror and other extreme measures, active chiefly from 1789 to 1794: so called from the Dominican convent in Paris, where they originally met.
an extreme radical, especially in politics.
a Dominican friar.
(lowercase) one of a fancy breed of domestic pigeons having neck feathers that hang over the head like a hood.

Origin of Jacobin

1275–1325; Middle English Jacobin < Old French (frere) jacobin < Medieval Latin (frater) Jacōbinus. See Jacob, -in1
Related formsJac·o·bin·ic, Jac·o·bin·i·cal, adjectiveJac·o·bin·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for jacobins

Contemporary Examples of jacobins

  • Many targets will settle because their attorneys will advise them that their juries will likely be stocked with Jacobins.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Witch Hunt Backlash Is Coming

    Eric Dezenhall

    March 22, 2009

  • Jefferson even defended the Jacobins, architects of the bloody Reign of Terror.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Un-American Revolutions

    Niall Ferguson

    February 27, 2011

Historical Examples of jacobins

British Dictionary definitions for jacobins



a member of the most radical club founded during the French Revolution, which overthrew the Girondists in 1793 and, led by Robespierre, instituted the Reign of Terror
a leftist or extreme political radical
a French Dominican friar
(sometimes not capital) a variety of fancy pigeon with a hood of feathers swept up over and around the head


of, characteristic of, or relating to the Jacobins or their policies
Derived FormsJacobinic or Jacobinical, adjectiveJacobinically, adverbJacobinism, noun

Word Origin for Jacobin

C14: from Old French, from Medieval Latin Jacōbīnus, from Late Latin Jacōbus James; applied to the Dominicans, from the proximity of the church of St Jacques (St James) to their first convent in Paris; the political club originally met in the convent in 1789
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 jacobins


early 14c., of the order of Dominican friars whose order built its first convent near the church of Saint-Jacques in Paris, from Old French Jacobin (13c.) "Dominican friar," also, in the Middle East, "a Copt;" see Jacob. The Revolutionary extremists took up quarters there October 1789. Used generically of radicals and allegedly radical reformers since 1793. Related: Jacobinism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

jacobins in Culture



An extreme radical party during the French Revolution named for the place where its founders first met, a convent of Jacobin friars. It was led by Robespierre.


In general, a member of an extremist or radical group is often called a “Jacobin.”
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.