Definition of Tory in English:



  • 1(in the UK) a member or supporter of the Conservative Party.

    ‘a poll showed the Tories thirteen points behind Labour’
    • ‘Only by changing this pattern and being harsh will refugees be neutralised as an issue for the Tories and the BNP.’
    • ‘There is no great victory in this for the Tories or Liberal Democrats.’
    • ‘But the Liberal Democrats and the Tories did not make the breakthrough in councils they hoped for.’
    • ‘Yet New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats all agree on maintaining the occupation.’
    • ‘Now a real Socialist alternative to New Labour, the Tories and the BNP is on offer.’
    • ‘Liberal Unionists joined the Tories to launch the Unionist Party in Scotland in 1912.’
    • ‘The Tories and the Liberal Democrats sought to score political points over the crisis.’
    • ‘Unlike the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, it has no centralised campaign for the student vote.’
    • ‘Let's be honest, who cares if the Tories accuse the Liberal Democrats of this or the Lib Dems accuse Labour of that?’
    • ‘Where I live it's a straight race between the Tories and Liberal Democrats.’
    • ‘The committee comprises seven Labour MPs, three Tories and one Liberal Democrat.’
    • ‘They have made obscene profits since they were privatised by the Tories.’
    • ‘The Labour councillors voted with the Tories in support of this motion, while the Lib Dems opposed it.’
    • ‘The upbeat mood swung wildly from the Tories to the Lib Dems as supporters scrutinised the ballot papers for clues.’
    • ‘Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats all stand full square behind the private sector’
    • ‘New Labour is racked by growing divisions over its loss of popular support and the same can be said for the Tories and SNP.’
    • ‘The Tories and Liberal Democrats deny they are a coalition but we have noted they frequently vote together.’
    • ‘There are middle and upper class socialists, just as there are working class Tories.’
    • ‘To essentially claim that he is no better than the Liberals or Tories is plain sectarianism.’
    • ‘Any pact between Labour and the Liberal Democrats leaves the Tories one down in the numbers game.’
    1. 1.1 A member of the English political party opposing the exclusion of James II from the succession. It remained the name for members of the English, later British, parliamentary party supporting the established religious and political order until the emergence of the Conservative Party in the 1830s.
      Compare with Whig (sense 1)
      • ‘These were not political parties in the sense of the Whigs or Tories, or Hats and Caps.’
      • ‘Disraeli had resisted the attempts of some of his party faithful to make the Tories a solely Anglican party.’
      • ‘The Whigs owed their name, like the Tories, to the exclusion crisis of Charles II's reign.’
      • ‘It was much broader than Tory or church party and avoided the divisive names of Whig and Tory at a time when many were combining to overthrow Walpole.’
      right-winger, reactionary, rightist, diehard
      View synonyms
  • 2US A colonist who supported the British side during the War of American Independence.


  • Relating to the British Conservative Party or its supporters.

    ‘the Tory party’
    ‘Tory voters’
    • ‘The Tory philosophy of government is healthy and it is also healthy in terms of the quality of people it attracts.’
    • ‘The debate on the Maastricht Treaty tore apart the last Tory government.’
    • ‘Unlike most other party youth wings, none of these various Tory youth brigades was ever officially affiliated to the party either the Alliance or now the Conservatives.’
    • ‘His childhood home was in Winton, a working-class area far in its culture from the conventional view of Bournemouth as a retirement home for Britain's highest concentration of Tory voters.’
    • ‘It was envisioned, the story goes, as a short-term, inconsequential distraction, not a lasting symbol of the Tory campaign's ineptitude and crudity.’
    • ‘It is, after all, easy to forget that guitar-groups reached their apogee during the last years of Tory rule.’
    • ‘By deliberately steering between the extremes of prevailing Whig and Tory philosophies he incurred the complaints of both sides.’
    • ‘Conversely, the monarchical tradition in Europe and Canada fostered Tory statism.’
    • ‘They were the prototype for most Tory election addresses for the next century.’
    • ‘The poll found that the embattled Tory leader's personal rating is on the slide as his party is convulsed by fresh in-fighting.’
    • ‘There is a grain of truth here, but we are all now too conscious of middle-class socialists, Tory workers, and the like, to pursue this line uncritically.’
    • ‘By backing a Tory amendment, the Government will split any opposition to its stance.’
    • ‘The fraud trials and convictions of more than a dozen former Tory MLAs, cabinet ministers and party hacks from the Devine era have been going on for about two years, with more to come.’
    • ‘Our only chance was somehow to win the support of sufficient numbers of Tory councillors.’
    • ‘The immediate goal would be the defeat of the Liberals by a Tory government; the next step would be the abrogation of NAFTA, something which the agreement permits on six months' notice.’
    • ‘The lesson of the Tory age - that long-life governments have to take particular care to guard against corruption - has been forgotten already.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, as has been well documented, the Tory government was very critical of the BBC's coverage of the war.’
    • ‘Given the Tory divisions over Europe, it is likely that a strong pro or anti thrust would split the party.’
    • ‘He describes himself as a long-time Tory supporter who was in favour of the merger last year of the Conservatives with their often bitter right-wing rivals the Alliance.’
    • ‘What is novel is the error in the minds of Tory pundits: the fallacy of the superior virtue of the blessed.’
    right-wing, reactionary, traditionalist, unprogressive, establishmentarian, blimpish
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: probably from Irish toraidhe ‘outlaw, highwayman’, from tóir ‘pursue’. The word was used of Irish peasants dispossessed by English settlers and living as robbers, and extended to other marauders especially in the Scottish Highlands. It was then adopted c 1679 as an abusive nickname for supporters of the Catholic James II.