Origin of progressive

First recorded in 1600–10; progress + -ive
Related formspro·gres·sive·ly, adverbpro·gres·sive·ness, pro·gres·siv·i·ty [proh-gre-siv-i-tee] /ˌproʊ grɛˈsɪv ɪ ti/, nounan·ti·pro·gres·sive, adjectivenon·pro·gres·sive, adjective, nounnon·pro·gres·sive·ly, adverbnon·pro·gres·sive·ness, nounqua·si-pro·gres·sive, adjectivequa·si-pro·gres·sive·ly, adverbsem·i·pro·gres·sive, adjective, nounsem·i·pro·gres·sive·ly, adverbsem·i·pro·gres·sive·ness, nounul·tra·pro·gres·sive, adjective, nounul·tra·pro·gres·sive·ly, adverbul·tra·pro·gres·sive·ness, nounun·pro·gres·sive, adjectiveun·pro·gres·sive·ly, adverbun·pro·gres·sive·ness, noun

Synonyms for progressive

1, 9. liberal. 5. successive. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for progressive

Contemporary Examples of progressive

Historical Examples of progressive

  • His life has been that of his century—progressive, liberal, humanitarian in its trend.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • The action of existing causes and principles is steady and progressive.

  • Every advance in civilisation is synonymous with a progressive diminution of the differences.


    Theodor Hertzka

  • This failing should be corrected by progressive but prudent training.

  • But the most progressive city in this respect was Philadelphia.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

British Dictionary definitions for progressive



of or relating to progress
proceeding or progressing by steps or degrees
(often capital) favouring or promoting political or social reform through government action, or even revolution, to improve the lot of the majoritya progressive policy
denoting or relating to an educational system that allows flexibility in learning procedures, based on activities determined by the needs and capacities of the individual child, the aim of which is to integrate academic with social development
(of a tax or tax system) graduated so that the rate increases relative to the amount taxedCompare regressive (def. 2)
(esp of a disease) advancing in severity, complexity, or extent
(of a dance, card game, etc) involving a regular change of partners after one figure, one game, etc
denoting an aspect of verbs in some languages, including English, used to express prolonged or continuous activity as opposed to momentary or habitual activitya progressive aspect of the verb ``to walk'' is ``is walking.''


a person who advocates progress, as in education, politics, etc
  1. the progressive aspect of a verb
  2. a verb in this aspect
Derived Formsprogressively, adverbprogressiveness, nounprogressivism, nounprogressivist, noun



US history a member or supporter of a Progressive Party
Canadian history a member or supporter of a chiefly agrarian reform movement advocating the nationalization of railways, low tariffs, an end to party politics, and similar measures: important in the early 1920s


of, relating to, or characteristic of a Progressive Party, Progressive movement, or Progressives
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 progressive

c.1600, "characterized by advancement" (in action, character, etc.), from progress (n.) + -ive, or else from French progressif, from past participle stem of Latin progredi. Of taxation, from 1889; of jazz, from 1947. Meaning "characterized by striving for change and innovation, avant-garde, liberal" is from 1908.

In the socio-political sense "favoring reform; radically liberal," it emerged in various British contexts from the 1880s; in the U.S. it was active as a movement in the 1890s and a generation thereafter, the name being taken again from time to time, most recently by some more liberal Democrats and other social activists, by c.2000. The noun in the sense "one who favors social and political change in the name of progress" is first attested 1865 (originally in Christianity). Earlier in a like sense were progressionist (1849, adjective; 1884, noun), progressist (1848). Related: Progressively; progressiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

progressive in Medicine




Moving forward; advancing.
Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments, as of a course of treatment.
Tending to become more severe or wider in scope, as of a disease or paralysis.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.