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See more synonyms for reactionary on Thesaurus.com
  1. of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.
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noun, plural re·ac·tion·ar·ies.
  1. a reactionary person.
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Sometimes re·ac·tion·ist [ree-ak-shuh-nist] /riˈæk ʃə nɪst/.

Origin of reactionary

1830–40; reaction + -ary; compare French réactionnaire
Related formsre·ac·tion·ism, re·ac·tion·ar·y·ism, re·ac·tion·ar·ism [ree-ak-shuh-nuh-riz-uhm] /riˈæk ʃə nəˌrɪz əm/, nounan·ti·re·ac·tion·ar·y, noun, plural an·ti·re·ac·tion·ar·ies, adjectivehalf-re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjectivenon·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective, noun, plural non·re·ac·tion·ar·ies.sem·i·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective, noun, plural sem·i·re·ac·tion·ar·ies.un·re·ac·tion·ar·y, adjective
Can be confusedproactive reactionary reactive

Synonyms for reactionary

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Antonyms for reactionary

1, 2. radical.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for reactionist

rightist, traditionalist, ultraconservative, diehard, obscurantist, royalist, counterrevolutionary, Tory, mossback, intransigent, reactionist, standpatter, die-hard

Examples from the Web for reactionist

Historical Examples of reactionist

  • Yet he has abandoned the policy of the late king by appointing a reactionist ministry.

    The International Monthly Magazine, Volume 5, No. 1, January, 1852


  • "I care as much for the liberty of other people as for that of France," said a Federal to a reactionist.

  • Charlotte Corday was a reactionist, but she slew Marat and died calmly and bravely.

    A Girl of the Commune

    George Alfred Henty

  • Rousseau was an exception, but then Rousseau was in truth a reactionist, and not a loyal member of the great company of reformers.

  • Reactionist in, and it soon became the fashion to decry the once much-lauded philosopher.

British Dictionary definitions for reactionist



  1. of, relating to, or characterized by reaction, esp against radical political or social change
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noun plural -aries or -ists
  1. a person opposed to radical change
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Derived Formsreactionism, 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 reactionist



1831, on model of French réactionnaire (19c.), from réaction (see reaction). In Marxist use, "tending toward reversing existing tendencies," opposed to revolutionary and used opprobriously in reference to opponents of communism, by 1858. As a noun, "person considered reactionary," especially in politics, one who seeks to check or undo political action, by 1855.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

reactionist in Culture


An extremely conservative person or position that not only resists change but seeks to return to the “good old days” of an earlier social order.

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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.