Definition of conservative in English:

conservative

adjective

  • 1Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values:

    ‘they were very conservative in their outlook’
    • ‘The rapid rise of the green movement is an example of this, because it appeals to traditional conservative values.’
    • ‘Will it mean that the tide of traditional patriarchal values, of conservative religiosity, will become irreversible?’
    • ‘Many of them are religious, (and they may have voted to ban gay marriage) but they are not driven to the polls on the conservative values agenda.’
    • ‘This modernization was predicated on defense, rather than destruction, of traditional and conservative Spanish Catholic religious culture.’
    • ‘Not until the second half of the nineteenth century did the valuation of scientific knowledge come into conflict with more conservative religious values.’
    • ‘Here again there is a fine balance to be struck between the use of doctrine to enforce innovation and its more conservative function as the bearer of professional values and institutional memories.’
    • ‘His parents weren't party-political, but he was certainly brought up with traditionally conservative values.’
    • ‘This contrasts with a stronger assertion of identity and values among conservative church bodies.’
    • ‘Betty may only be a character, but she's part of a much larger trend toward conservative values and traditional female roles.’
    • ‘There he embarked on a covert anti-devolution campaign and many respected journalists left as he imposed his middle-market editorial content and conservative values on the paper.’
    • ‘Some activists approach these issues from the perspective of religious freedom and conservative values.’
    • ‘What are referred to as the Christian right in the USA are mainly people with very conservative values about issues such as homosexuality and abortion.’
    • ‘Lewis was an old-fashioned Christian, and those who consider the church to be too interested in modernising see him as a hero of religious orthodoxy and conservative values.’
    • ‘Kenyan homes are traditionally conservative and strictly patriarchal.’
    • ‘Should I teach them secular values or conservative religious ones?’
    • ‘While her friends accept the affair, she must hide it from her tradition-bound parents and religiously conservative older brother.’
    • ‘We hear a lot about conservative values in the country.’
    • ‘An orchestrated return to traditional family values has pressured conservative men to explicitly re-valorize women who accept traditional roles.’
    • ‘These prevalent conservative values have complicated the kingdom's relations with its main foreign ally - the United States.’
    • ‘If the deceased fisherman has relatives and belongs to a conservative religious tradition, his ambiguous death is more likely to be judged an accident than if he is single and secular.’
    traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, stable, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, unchanging, hidebound
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    1. 1.1 (of dress or taste) sober and conventional:
      ‘a conservative suit’
      • ‘Since newcomers established colonies in imitation of their homelands, their taste was inherently conservative, broadening only with time and travel.’
      • ‘The best advice I was always given by peers was to dress in a conservative suit with modest accessories at the interview.’
      • ‘It also is the least atonal-sounding movement and will likely appeal even to those of fairly conservative tastes.’
      • ‘She was dressed in a conservative black suit and pearls.’
      • ‘The many suits and ties and other conservative dress worn by the crowd yesterday reflected the upscale membership of much of the organisation.’
      • ‘The dress was very conservative, but it accentuated my curves.’
      • ‘I work for a commercial real-estate company with a highly conservative dress code.’
      • ‘Not wanting to bowl him over completely on their first date, she'd donned a fairly conservative dress of navy blue, with white trim and buttons.’
      • ‘The hectic design would hardly have conformed with Philip's conservative taste.’
      • ‘He really does look as if a men's conservative dress shop is the only place that would hire him.’
      • ‘The students' conservative dress also belies the fact that they are, like they were in my day, by and large liberal in outlook.’
      • ‘For women, the look is conservative - ladylike suits, sophisticated pantsuits, subtle dark dresses.’
      • ‘Otherwise, he has dressed in a conservative gray suit, with a crisp white shirt and perfectly creased trousers.’
      • ‘The busts bear no arms or other marks which might help with identification of the sitters, although the conservative dress and hairstyle suggest they were from the middle classes.’
      • ‘Not only are the quantities of meat large, but the fact that there are people who want to eat dried rat bat, or even monkey meat comes as a surprise to those of us whose tastes are more conservative.’
      • ‘The traditional range is still being sold, particularly into America where tastes are more conservative.’
      • ‘The real viewers are likely to be over 50, married and of broadly conservative tastes.’
      • ‘She was wearing a conservative peach dress suit and low-heeled white shoes.’
      • ‘It was a kind of sweet and sour sauce, possibly of lemon and mustard, that just didn't hit it off with my conservative taste buds.’
      • ‘The rather conservative dress in question is on the left as you can see.’
      conventional, sober, quiet, modest, plain, unobtrusive, unostentatious, restrained, reserved, subdued, subtle, low-key, demure
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  • 2(in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.

    • ‘My idea of a conservative is somebody who thinks taxes are too high.’
    • ‘None of these people could remotely be described as liberals, meaning that the Republican Party and conservative America is itself split on the question.’
    • ‘Its centre of political gravity has moved from conservative liberalism to social democracy and environmentalism.’
    • ‘A return to the traditional conservative values of non-intervention and prudence is called for.’
    • ‘In this context, conservative governments sought to transform social security into an insurance-based system.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the electoral reality for the SNP is that it holds what were historically Tory seats - ones which remain socially and politically conservative.’
    • ‘The resulting paradox - a transgressive aesthetic supporting a conservative social and political status quo - would endure until the end of the Old Regime.’
    • ‘Actually, if the indie labels had politics they were at base neither socialist nor conservative but autonomist.’
    • ‘Broadly speaking, the more conservative the state's political representation in the legislature, the more regressive its tax burden.’
    • ‘That is holding back socialist revolutions to appease a more conservative capitalist element.’
    • ‘However, there is a tendency for European electorates to move to the right or left in a manner that may not be co-ordinated, but does produce clusters of conservative or Socialist governments at any one time.’
    • ‘Such developments would presumably be envied by genuine libertarians in socially conservative countries - even if their taxes are lower.’
    • ‘The libertarian, old conservative wing of the Republican Party has never liked this war.’
    • ‘His roots were embedded in the Labour party, in its internal power mechanisms, its trade union affiliations and its conservative brand of social democracy.’
    right-wing, reactionary, traditionalist, unprogressive, establishmentarian, blimpish
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    1. 2.1 Relating to the Conservative Party of Great Britain or a similar party elsewhere:
      ‘the Conservative government’
      • ‘Plans for a tidy tip next to a busy park have been criticised by Conservative councillors.’
      • ‘The prospect of a Conservative government has provoked a major debate in the corporate media.’
      • ‘An important factor in this was the experience of eighteen years of Conservative government.’
      • ‘The three MPs said it is official Conservative policy to increase the size of the Army and it would keep the regiment.’
      • ‘The Conservative governments bypassed local authorities in many policy fields.’
      • ‘How do we develop a response to the Labour and Conservative assaults on our Home affairs and Taxation polices?’
      • ‘Vendettas and character assassination have wrecked the last three Conservative leaderships.’
      • ‘The blame lies fairly and squarely at the door of this Conservative council.’
      • ‘Many of the people who had sent letters of protest and joined the lobby were Conservative voters.’
      • ‘In the county elections, there was one Conservative gain, which gives them an overall majority of three.’
      • ‘There was no real Conservative tradition in European terms, nor socialism neither.’
      • ‘If Labour wins its expected second landslide it will mark the end of a century of Conservative hegemony.’
      • ‘If he does become Conservative leader or even Prime minister then, yes, that may make a difference.’
      • ‘Labour's voters are more efficiently distributed than Conservative voters.’
      • ‘The suggestion has not, however, been welcomed by Conservative headquarters.’
      • ‘This is all down to a lack of capital expenditure on the railways by success Labour and Conservative governments.’
      • ‘At the same time we had just emerged from a long period of Conservative government.’
      • ‘After what some would say has been a long gestation period, new Conservative policies have appeared.’
      • ‘The Labour Government rigidly stuck to Conservative spending targets in its first two years of office.’
      • ‘The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are contesting every seat.’
  • 3(of an estimate) purposely low for the sake of caution:

    ‘police placed the value of the haul at a conservative £500,000’
    • ‘However, this is a conservative estimate that suggests at most just one in eight of all non-resident accounts opened over the period in question were bogus.’
    • ‘Forty years is a ridiculously conservative estimate, as can now be demonstrated, and it turns out that microfiche's shelf-life is limited too, far more than paper.’
    • ‘At a conservative estimate, anywhere between three to five million people live inside these protected areas and several millions more around them.’
    • ‘He said it was not possible to say how long the pressure would have lasted: ‘A conservative estimate would be about a minute, maybe two.’’
    • ‘The average person moves six times in their lifetime, according to conservative estimates, sometimes losing touch with friends, colleagues and even relatives.’
    • ‘A conservative estimate suggested that mistaken identification contributed to the wrongful conviction of more than 300 people a year in England and Wales.’
    • ‘And, you know, that might be a conservative estimate.’
    • ‘The combat capability of such a servicemen could be compared, even by conservative estimates, to that of a modern section or even platoon.’
    • ‘The price was paid in Latin America in the deaths and disappearance of, at a conservative estimate, around 100,000 people throughout the subcontinent.’
    • ‘However, with conservative estimates putting the figure at almost £40 million, cabinet approval will be required.’
    • ‘A conservative estimate would surely be closer to 60,000.’
    • ‘One conservative estimate put the number of protesters at more than six million people, making it largest ever simultaneous demonstration since the Vietnam War.’
    • ‘And that, say experts, is a very conservative estimate.’
    • ‘Despite the fact that a conservative estimate for the overall cost of the project is in the region of 40 million both men believe now is the time to make such an investment.’
    • ‘A conservative estimate has visitors spending an average of €80 each.’
    • ‘The number of women trafficked for this purpose is unknown, although conservative estimates put the number in the millions.’
    • ‘The $2.8 million is a conservative estimate based on records from the House and Senate clerks' offices.’
    • ‘We consider this to be a conservative estimate.’
    • ‘Those sorts of considerations are why I said $440 billion was a conservative estimate, which is admittedly a bit crazy just to say, but there it is.’
    • ‘It appears this may have been a conservative estimate.’
    low, cautious, understated, unexaggerated, moderate, reasonable
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  • 4(of surgery or medical treatment) intended to control rather than eliminate a condition, with existing tissue preserved as far as possible.

    • ‘The trial randomized 1,033 patients in 27 countries to early surgery or conservative treatment.’
    • ‘Fortunately, conservative treatments such as ice, rest and physical therapy can often relieve symptoms.’
    • ‘Mammography, bilateral in patients who had had conservative surgery, was scheduled once a year.’
    • ‘Surgeons are traditionalists, and the early experience of our peers has coloured current surgical opinion and slowed the introduction of conservative surgery for the benign parotid lump.’
    • ‘Initial treatment of both conditions is conservative, but when conservative treatment fails, the surgical approach to the two problems differs markedly.’
    • ‘With resection procedures and conservative treatment, many limbs were saved, and deaths were avoided.’
    • ‘Mild symptoms may be helped by conservative treatments such as pain relievers, physical therapy or a supportive brace.’
    • ‘Early surgery also avoids complications when conservative treatment fails.’
    • ‘For patients who do not respond to conservative treatment, surgery should be considered.’
    • ‘This finding has implications for patients with normal or near normal facial function who are advised to undertake conservative observation rather than surgery.’
    • ‘After a trial of conservative treatment, definitive surgical repair is usually required.’
    • ‘When conservative treatments don't help, surgery may offer relief.’
    • ‘Surgeons need to exhaust conservative treatments before proceeding to surgery and be realistic about the outcome of surgery.’
    • ‘Treatment is usually conservative and involves cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy.’
    • ‘Surgical referral may be indicated after conservative treatment has failed, although the exact timing of surgery should be decided on an individual basis.’
    • ‘The orthopaedic surgeon continued to use conservative treatment, but the symptoms were no better a year later.’
    • ‘But they usually respond to conservative treatment and don't need surgery.’
    • ‘The surgical alternatives to medical treatment range from minor conservative procedures to hysterectomy.’
    • ‘Continence surgery is indicated when conservative treatment fails or the patient wants definitive treatment.’
    • ‘If conservative treatment fails, surgery to excise any bone spurs and debridement of the retrocalcaneal bursa may be helpful.’

noun

  • 1A person who is averse to change and holds traditional values:

    ‘he remains a conservative in constitutional matters’
    • ‘The antagonism between conservatives and progressives in Korea has a long history.’
    • ‘The conservatives approve of my using the old words, but my themes upset them.’
    • ‘We can only hope for the day when liberals stop considering conservatives to be lesser human beings.’
    • ‘He could actually win if the turnout is low and led by conservatives who are sticking by him.’
    • ‘That line seems to be working pretty well now among some of my fellow conservatives.’
    • ‘This is not to say that any one group of conservatives are strictly to blame.’
    • ‘Many conservatives expect a Supreme Court justice whose opinions they can predict.’
    • ‘The great failing of conservatives is their tendency to just give up after a few tries.’
    • ‘She proceeded to lay out her views on a range of issues that rub conservatives raw.’
    • ‘When divorce came along, the same conservatives argued it would mean an end to the institution.’
    • ‘There are a lot of conservatives who have held their tongue for the better part of two years.’
    • ‘I have put up here some reasons why conservatives in particular have reason to be thankful today.’
    • ‘The suggestion was immediately set upon by conservatives who argued it was all exaggerated.’
    • ‘So the claim that there are conservatives who believe in some sort of absolute liberty is a total straw man.’
    • ‘In liberal mythology it's conservatives and reactionaries who take the simplistic view.’
    • ‘The likely truth is that liberal bias does affect news coverage, but not always in the ways conservatives suspect.’
    • ‘On the other side is every strand of opinion from traditional moral conservatives to communists.’
    • ‘Once Africa was no longer a site of superpower competition, conservatives largely lost interest as well.’
    • ‘It just shows that there is nothing that conservatives can do to please some people.’
    • ‘They saw fascists as more patriotic and determined than traditional conservatives.’
    right-winger, reactionary, rightist, diehard
    tory
    republican
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  • 2A supporter or member of the Conservative Party of Great Britain or a similar party elsewhere.

    • ‘The Liberals and the Conservatives have made the same sort of cuts when they have been in charge.’
    • ‘I'd never vote for the Conservatives unless they became a radically different party.’
    • ‘Throughout that period the Conservatives remained a minority party in the Commons.’
    • ‘Every time I go to a gathering of Conservatives I am struck by their refusal to live in the real world.’
    • ‘Now the Conservatives have decided to try a similar approach with their party advertising.’
    • ‘The Conservatives were second in all five seats with the Liberal Democrats third.’
    • ‘The Conservatives tried it when they were in power, and now New Labour have tried it.’
    • ‘We know the Labour councillors are opposed to it, so that leaves the Conservatives.’
    • ‘He also insisted the Conservatives were now ready to form the next government.’
    • ‘The Scottish National Party and Conservatives are expected to oppose the building.’
    • ‘As the middle class has grown in size so also the Conservatives have gained a smaller share of that vote.’
    • ‘Around them stand officials and party workers from the Conservatives and Lib Dems.’
    • ‘Unlike the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives we do not make promises we cannot keep.’
    • ‘The letter was also signed by a handful who revealed they had in the past supported the Conservatives.’
    • ‘Next year the chair will be a Liberal Democrat and the Conservatives will take the deputy chair.’
    • ‘He points out in his letter that the Conservatives did not wish to form the Executive of the Council.’
    • ‘Nor is it right for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to connive with that purpose.’
    • ‘The polls refuse to shift and the Conservatives are seen as a single-issue party.’
    • ‘There has never been a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘aiming to preserve’): from late Latin conservativus, from conservat- conserved, from the verb conservare (see conserve). Current senses date from the mid 19th century.

Pronunciation

conservative

/kənˈsəːvətɪv/