[ suhb-vur-siv ]
/ səbˈvɜr sɪv /


Also sub·ver·sion·ar·y [suhb-vur-zhuh-ner-ee, -shuh-] /səbˈvɜr ʒəˌnɛr i, -ʃə-/. tending or intending to subvert or overthrow, destroy, or undermine an established or existing system, especially a legally constituted government or a set of beliefs.


a person who adopts subversive principles or policies.

Nearby words

  1. suburbicarian,
  2. subvaginal,
  3. subvene,
  4. subvention,
  5. subversion,
  6. subvert,
  7. subviral,
  8. subvirus,
  9. subvisible,
  10. subvocal

Origin of subversive

1635–45; < Latin subvers(us) (past participle of subvertere to subvert) + -ive

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subversive

British Dictionary definitions for subversive


/ (səbˈvɜːsɪv) /


liable to subvert or overthrow a government, legally constituted institution, etc


a person engaged in subversive activities, etc
Derived Formssubversively, adverbsubversiveness, 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 subversive



1640s, from Latin subvers-, past participle stem of subvertere (see subvert) + -ive. As a noun, attested from 1887.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper