a member of any of various bands of workers in England (1811–16) organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment.
someone who is opposed or resistant to new technologies or technological change.

Origin of Luddite

1805–15; after Ned Ludd, 18th-century Leicestershire worker who originated the idea; see -ite1
Related formsLud·dism, Lud·dit·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for luddites

Contemporary Examples of luddites

  • Graedon comes down firmly on the side of the luddites, but her vision of the future is less alarmist than alarmingly within reach.

    The Daily Beast logo
    This Week’s Hot Reads: April 21, 2014

    Thomas Flynn

    April 22, 2014

  • Paul Krugman has a column today on a topic you don't normally get much of from economists:  sympathy for the Luddites.

    The Daily Beast logo
    When Work Disappears

    Megan McArdle

    June 14, 2013

Historical Examples of luddites

  • The attitude of the Luddites had become more openly threatening.

    Through the Fray

    G. A. Henty

  • The Luddites, who commenced breaking up machinery in manufacturing towns in 1811, again committed great excesses.

    Lord John Russell

    Stuart J. Reid

  • In April, seven members of the so-called society of Luddites were hanged at Leicester for breaking labor-saving machinery.

  • In November many Luddites were convicted, and sixteen were executed by sentence of a special commission sitting at York.

  • Bill had dropped in, and they sat talking of the doings of the Luddites till it was later than usual.

    Through the Fray

    G. A. Henty

British Dictionary definitions for luddites


noun English history

any of the textile workers opposed to mechanization who rioted and organized machine-breaking between 1811 and 1816
any opponent of industrial change or innovation


of or relating to the Luddites
Derived FormsLuddism, noun

Word Origin for Luddite

C19: alleged to be named after Ned Ludd, an 18th-century Leicestershire workman, who destroyed industrial machinery
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 luddites



also luddite, 1811, from name taken by an organized band of weavers who destroyed machinery in Midlands and northern England 1811-16 for fear it would deprive them of work. Supposedly from Ned Ludd, a Leicestershire worker who in 1779 had done the same before through insanity (but that story first was told in 1847). Applied to modern rejecters of automation and technology from at least 1961. As an adjective from 1812.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

luddites in Culture



Opponents of the introduction of labor-saving machinery. The original Luddites, followers of a legendary Ned Ludd, were British laborers of the early nineteenth century who smashed textile-making machines that threatened their jobs.


Contemporary opponents of technological change are sometimes called “Luddites.”
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.