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.

Origin of subversive

1635–45; < Latin subvers(us) (past participle of subvertere to subvert) + -ive
Related formssub·ver·sive·ly, adverbsub·ver·siv·ism, sub·ver·sive·ness, nouncoun·ter·sub·ver·sive, nounnon·sub·ver·sive, adjectivenon·sub·ver·sive·ly, adverbnon·sub·ver·sive·ness, nounself-sub·ver·sive, adjectiveun·sub·ver·sive, adjectiveun·sub·ver·sive·ly, adverbun·sub·ver·sive·ness, noun

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

Examples from the Web for subversiveness

Contemporary Examples of subversiveness

Historical Examples of subversiveness

  • Moreover, a certain suspicion of subversiveness and license clung about the press.

  • The subversiveness of Mr. Leath's opinions was enhanced by the distinction of his appearance and the reserve of his manners.

    The Reef

    Edith Wharton

British Dictionary definitions for subversiveness



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 subversiveness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper