1. the act of reforming; state of being reformed.
  2. (initial capital letter) the religious movement in the 16th century that had for its object the reform of the Roman Catholic Church, and that led to the establishment of the Protestant churches.

Origin of reformation

1375–1425; late Middle English reformacion < Latin refōrmātiōn- (stem of refōrmātiō), equivalent to refōrmāt(us) (past participle of refōrmāre to reform) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsref·or·ma·tion·al, adjectivenon·ref·or·ma·tion, nounnon·ref·or·ma·tion·al, adjectivepost-Ref·or·ma·tion, nounpre-Ref·or·ma·tion, nounpre·ref·or·ma·tion, adjectiveself-ref·or·ma·tion, nounsu·per·ref·or·ma·tion, noun

Synonyms for reformation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pre-reformation

Historical Examples of pre-reformation

  • The furniture and accessories of the altar in pre-Reformation times were numerous.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • Nor did the Church in England in pre-Reformation times fail in her duty in this respect.

    Lux Mundi


  • Indeed, music as a great science was unknown in pre-Reformation times.

  • One of the bells is pre-Reformation, and has the inscription Regina coeli, laetare.


    G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade

  • The church has a low W. tower, possessing one pre-Reformation bell.


    G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade

British Dictionary definitions for pre-reformation


  1. the act or an instance of reforming or the state of being reformed
Derived Formsreformational, adjective


  1. a religious and political movement of 16th-century Europe that began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant Churches
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 pre-reformation



"improvement, alteration for the better," late 14c., "restoration;" mid-15c., "improvement," from Old French reformacion and directly from Latin reformationem (nominative reformatio), noun of action from past participle stem of reformare (see reform (v.)). In reference to the European religious movement, it is attested by 1540s, borrowed from Luther. The movement began as a bid to reform doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pre-reformation in Culture


A religious movement in the sixteenth century that began as an attempted reform of the Roman Catholic Church but resulted in the founding of Protestant churches separate from it. Some of the leaders of the Reformation were Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox. The Reformation was established in England after King Henry VIII declared himself head of the Christian Church in that country.

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.