Definition of progressive in English:



  • 1Happening or developing gradually or in stages.

    ‘a progressive decline in popularity’
    • ‘Your inability to climb well can be improved if you find the key limiter and incorporate an objective plan to improve your fitness in progressive stages.’
    • ‘The two principal features of Bacon's new method were an emphasis on gradual, progressive inductions, and a method of exclusion.’
    • ‘The typical model of cancer palliative care might not suit people who have a gradual, progressive decline with unpredictable exacerbations.’
    • ‘Avoid rapid, bouncing movements, and instead emphasize a slow, gradual, and progressive stretch of each muscle.’
    • ‘Evidence emerged of progressive glass deterioration and raised concerns of possible parchment deterioration by hydrolysis.’
    • ‘One lesson a week will give a slow, but progressive development.’
    • ‘Once the brace is removed, treatment involves progressive strengthening, gradual return to running then sport-specific drills.’
    • ‘The testing occurs in two stages, the first stage consisting of a progressive exertion test to measure endurance and a vertical leap test to measure explosive leg power.’
    • ‘All in all there are four stages of progressive differentiation.’
    • ‘Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective - and safe - way to increase muscle strength.’
    • ‘It is important to mention that the stages are not necessarily progressive but indicate the depth of pathological involvement.’
    • ‘Three progressive stages of coding in the grounded theory method are open coding, axial coding, and selective coding.’
    • ‘These courses may assist you in developing a comprehensive and progressive training program for staff to help reduce some of the risks involved in boating.’
    • ‘Aging is not a disease but a normal, gradual, and progressive decline that begins in the thirties when biological aging initiates cellular changes throughout the body.’
    • ‘To understand visualization practice, we have to understand something of the progressive stages of meditation.’
    • ‘Successive appeals chronicled the progressive decline and eventual closure of the practice.’
    • ‘The Buddhist path is divided into three yanas, or vehicles, which represent levels or progressive stages of Buddhist teachings.’
    • ‘At the same time one must observe the pattern of progressive deterioration here as well.’
    • ‘Aging does not have to mean a progressive decline in the quality of life, so extended good health is the new challenge in all societies today.’
    • ‘In such a case, the disease could have affected your operated ear, gradually resulting in the progressive loss of hearing.’
    continuing, continuous, increasing, growing, developing, ongoing, intensifying, accelerating, escalating
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    1. 1.1(of a medical condition) increasing in severity.
      ‘progressive liver failure’
      • ‘Chronic progressive weakness is the classic presentation in genetic and metabolic myopathies.’
      • ‘He had been examined periodically in recent months because of progressive congestive heart failure and peripheral edema.’
      • ‘Obesity is also a progressive condition, unlike anorexia nervosa, which tends to ameliorate with age.’
      • ‘Once respiratory or renal disease develops, the course is usually rapidly progressive.’
      • ‘Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder with a substantial impact on patients and their families.’
      • ‘Patients suffering from cholesterol emboli syndrome, a progressive disease unresponsive to therapy, may benefit from iloprost.’
      • ‘Alzheimer's disease is a chronic, progressive dementia developing over months to years.’
      • ‘I developed progressive MS late in life at age 46 after three years of very stressful work.’
      • ‘The second phase, referred to as the cardiopulmonary phase, is manifested by severe, rapidly progressive respiratory failure.’
      • ‘In contrast, tumors and ototoxic medications produce slowly progressive unilateral or bilateral lesions.’
      • ‘An elderly black woman was readmitted to the hospital from a nursing home because of progressive weakness.’
      • ‘On her second hospital day she developed fever, tachycardia and tachypnea, progressive respiratory distress, and hypotension.’
      • ‘Multiple sclerosis is a progressive condition, which affects the nervous system, for which there is no cure.’
      • ‘Furthermore, heart failure is a progressive condition: once symptoms appear, subsequent morbidity and mortality are high.’
      • ‘In a progressive condition such as cystic fibrosis, it is difficult to disentangle the effects of age from those of disease severity.’
      • ‘He has rapidly progressive HIV disease as shown by his high viral load.’
      • ‘The report also recommends that people with progressive conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, should be covered from the time of diagnosis.’
      • ‘It was a progressive condition that fed off itself, as well as people's fears about it.’
      • ‘An addiction is a progressive disorder with mounting consequences with a genetic, biological heritage.’
      • ‘While the disorder is not progressive, the levels of independent function often deteriorate once a child enters adolescence and adulthood.’
    2. 1.2(of taxation or a tax) increasing as a proportion of the sum taxed as that sum increases.
      ‘steeply progressive income taxes’
      • ‘Real wages increased by 44 percent and there were other gains in the form of food subsidies, shorter working hours and social insurance, financed by steep progressive taxation.’
      • ‘Other forms of progressive taxation, such as a tax on wealth, are common in other rich nations.’
      • ‘Sometimes I think it is useless to debate the economic effects of decisions on minimum wage, inheritance taxes, progressive taxation, etc.’
      • ‘Income tax rates will not be increased and the progressive taxation system will be preserved.’
      • ‘He thinks a more progressive tax system would bolster public confidence.’
      • ‘Financing would come, most obviously, from the revival of steeply progressive taxation.’
      • ‘Income taxes are progressive - that is to say, you pay a higher proportion of your income the more money you make.’
      • ‘A meaningful minimum wage, reinforced by progressive taxation on high earners, could be a start.’
      • ‘Redressing economic inequality through more progressive taxation of the rich is out.’
      • ‘Everyone agrees that the fairest form of taxation is a progressive income tax: the more one earns, the more one pays.’
      • ‘Income tax structures use standard per-person exemptions, progressive tax rates, and earned income credits.’
      • ‘Income splitting between spouses helps reduce taxes overall because of progressive tax rates.’
      • ‘This is a case in point to indicate that land-based property taxes are progressive.’
      • ‘A nominally progressive tax structure to some degree retards the concentration over time of wealth among individuals.’
      • ‘The drive to abolish the estate tax is just one part of a much broader attack on the progressive tax system.’
      • ‘In Britain, income tax is a progressive tax, which is to say that the rich pay proportionately more than the poor.’
      • ‘State lawmakers' enthusiasm for cutting progressive taxes caught up with them in 2002.’
      • ‘Federal income tax is progressive, but this only barely makes up for the regressive nature of state and local taxes.’
      • ‘He suggests using progressive taxation to reduce inequality.’
      • ‘How effective has this progressive tax structure been?’
  • 2(of a person or idea) favouring social reform.

    ‘a relatively progressive Minister of Education’
    • ‘Do you think outspokenly progressive people are held to a standard that's not expected of others?’
    • ‘The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered.’
    • ‘Instead, the task for progressive people of all complexions should be to improve ourselves as human beings and rehabilitate our national house simultaneously.’
    • ‘The persecution of Christians was restrained by his progressive measures.’
    • ‘Although a right-wing neo-conservative, he's quite progressive on social policy and this gives him a certain desirability.’
    • ‘People have high expectations about Labor, the party of reform and progressive ideas.’
    • ‘Each stands for the failure of grandiose but flawed social experiments, master plans drawn up by enlightened and progressive lovers of humanity in the abstract.’
    • ‘She is a persuasive speaker who has mainstreamed progressive ideas without allowing them to be labeled as too liberal or left-wing.’
    • ‘I wish we had the luxury of choosing candidates purely on the basis of their commitment to a bottom-up revolution of the people and progressive ideas.’
    • ‘When our founding mothers and fathers wrote the Constitution, they took a major step forward in terms of progressive policies, by abolishing capital punishment.’
    • ‘It was brought about by progressive ideas and by the desire for social change.’
    • ‘As the church and aristocracy led an assault on the radical ideas coming from revolutionary France, Goya and his progressive friends found themselves under attack.’
    • ‘We're going to be strong on security and we're going to be socially progressive.’
    • ‘Until very recently, most progressive people and organizations putting serious money into electoral work never considered spending on these terms.’
    • ‘I have a question for radical and progressive people in the West.’
    • ‘I'm not enthused by the domestic agenda but I am very glad we have a radical and progressive leader on the international scene.’
    • ‘If we are not to use man-made poisons, the answer favoured by progressive gardeners is some kind of natural remedy.’
    • ‘The progressive solution lies in developing a unified political movement of the working class, armed with a genuine socialist consciousness.’
    • ‘There was a time when championing state sovereignty was a progressive idea because the advance of statehood helped destroy empires.’
    • ‘New organizing concepts and progressive ideas emerged during this period and they became lynchpins to the solutions of pestilence and urban design problems.’
    1. 2.1Favouring change or innovation.
      ‘the most progressive art school in Britain’
      • ‘She also had a number of progressive medical views and was a pioneer of early rising after childbirth, a practice that is now universal.’
      • ‘As they receded in the late fifties and early sixties the political space in which to develop a progressive agenda expanded accordingly.’
      • ‘The law was more than matched by popular literature and even progressive political movements.’
      • ‘A progressive art teacher shakes up a stuffy private school in 50s America.’
      • ‘The women's rights movement alone is one of the greatest progressive leaps forward in human history.’
      • ‘Perhaps it was not the aesthetic itself but its complete break with the past that threatened the sensibilities - as progressive art will do.’
      • ‘It was a stable, hardworking and mutually profitable relationship in a changing, innovative and progressive period in the upgrading of the standard and facility of education in our schools.’
      • ‘An aging bus repair shop may seem an unlikely place for a progressive art school.’
      • ‘One thing this election confirmed is that progressive politics can be winning politics.’
      • ‘Wood's restless energy and monumental ambition made him an innovator who adapted the progressive spirit of the age to military affairs.’
      • ‘His forward thinking, innovative and progressive methods of teaching, combined with his attention to detail of the core values of education, made him a wonderful asset to any school.’
      • ‘The more progressive art magazines evinced little more interest in the subject of photography.’
      • ‘The same has to happen here because while these developments are progressive and should be encouraged, they are still only piecemeal.’
      • ‘If the differences are important, we need to overcome them so as to develop a progressive vision of a possible future and a strategy to get there.’
      • ‘The whole point of progressive politics is to stand with the most vulnerable people.’
      • ‘While at once forward-looking, a progressive movement is also well rooted in the historic tides of reform in America.’
      • ‘Each new technical innovation has represented a progressive leap forward toward a better future.’
      • ‘The quality of what is on offer is astonishing - high-tech design equipment, satellite feeds for language teaching, vigorous contemporary progressive teaching in the arts.’
      • ‘Kitesurfing is the world's fastest growing watersport with new innovations and progressive manoeuvres being discovered regularly.’
      • ‘He did a number of innovative and progressive things with the staff at the Institute, and I was always amazed at his ability to remember everyone's name.’
      modern, liberal, advanced, forward-looking, forward-thinking, go-ahead, enlightened, enterprising, innovative, up-and-coming, new, dynamic, avant-garde, modernistic, disruptive
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    2. 2.2Relating to or denoting a style of rock music popular especially in the 1970s and characterized by classical influences, the use of keyboard instruments, and lengthy compositions.
      ‘classic progressive albums’
      ‘progressive bands like Black Sabbath and the Edgar Broughton Band’
      • ‘A whole lifestyle is suggested by this, home to tastefully decorated flats and progressive rock music.’
      • ‘She has been acclaimed for her organic and tribal sounds mixed in a progressive, techno-based style.’
      • ‘Todd Rundgren, a 1970s progressive rock musician with a loyal fan base, has become one of the first musicians to master the Internet as a means of fostering sales.’
      • ‘With their eleventh release Canada's progressive minstrels have hunkered down and created their best since '93's Whale Music.’
      • ‘The band played progressive metal, a style mixing complex compositional structures and odd time signatures with the intensity of heavy metal.’
      • ‘That moment, as well as anything, signifies the Japanese cut-and-paste master's arrival as a major force in the world of progressive pop music.’
      • ‘The band's style ranges from indie rock to progressive, with such influences as Radiohead, The Stone Roses, Led Zeppelin and The Frames.’
      • ‘Von Frickle is an American quartet from Eureka, Illinois, but they proudly wear their British progressive rock influences on their sleeve.’
      • ‘The relaxed instrumentation elevates the insightful vocals, creating a sound best described as progressive garage rock.’
      • ‘As dated as it all now sounds, Rare & Remixed nonetheless offers up some classic memories of the progressive movement's heyday.’
      • ‘Lovers of the aging British rock band's art and progressive rock music were trying for days, but there simply weren't enough tickets for everyone.’
      • ‘This Toronto trio has left their mark on the scene with a unique style of improvised progressive breakbeat house, a sound driven by artistic ingenuity but upheld by talented instrumentation.’
      • ‘On the surface, they seem like one of those typical, progressive rock supergroup offshoots where each band member gets to show off their instrumental prowess.’
      • ‘Among the most progressive songs is the title track, which opens the album as perhaps its strongest moment.’
  • 3Grammar
    Denoting an aspect or tense of a verb that expresses an action in progress, e.g. am writing, was writing.

    Also called continuous
    • ‘The same can be said of his frequent use of progressive verbs (gerunds).’
    • ‘Today we will talk about transitive and progressive tenses.’
    • ‘One has to say, rather, I am writing a letter, with the progressive aspect.’
    • ‘Complaining and lobbying are progressive forms of verbs.’
    • ‘I mean, so what if I use stative verbs in the progressive form, or use Chinese language structure for my English in daily usage?’
  • 4(of a card game or dance) involving a series of sections for which participants successively change place or relative position.

    • ‘I watched as the rest of the members of my class whirled around the Sport Hall in a progressive dance called the Oslo.’
    • ‘It is a progressive 25 card game and it will be held in the Old School Community Centre and will commence at 9pm.’
    • ‘At the progressive twenty-five card game in the Parish Hall on Tuesday, six people shared the top prize.’
  • 5archaic Engaging in or constituting forward motion.


  • 1An advocate of social reform.

    ‘people tend to present themselves either as progressives or traditionalists on this issue’
    • ‘Labor leaders and social progressives were among the most outspoken opponents of the World War I draft.’
    • ‘Yet there are still debates between traditionalists and progressives as to reforming the electoral process even further.’
    • ‘What's more, the most influential and most active progressives advocated labor legislation ‘for women and for women only.’’
    • ‘If liberals, progressives, leftists and old-fashioned conservatives don't unite to stop him, he just might succeed.’
    • ‘These men were the progressives and social reformers of their day.’
    • ‘The task of creating a democracy based on citizenship, diversity and solidarity is a far more difficult task, but one which social liberals and left-wing progressives in political and civil society need to take on.’
    • ‘Prior to the election, a loose coalition of social progressives was forming on council.’
    • ‘As our society places ever-increasing value on emotional maturity, progressives should expect social conservatives to respond with mounting cruelty and fanaticism.’
    • ‘He supported small business over large landowners and was a liberal progressive in his politics.’
    • ‘It's a legislative issue, like other election reforms, and progressives should be leading the way.’
    • ‘To me, this signifies that social progressives have, at last, conceded that they are a tiny minority of the Australian people.’
    • ‘These are all causes progressives have been advocating for years!’
    • ‘The reforms that progressives had introduced to improve learning were, for fundamentalists, part of the problem.’
    • ‘He's not going to kick out social conservatives if they agree with these principles any more than he'll kick out social progressives if they agree with these principles.’
    • ‘Sadly he failed to mention just which option said progressives should advocate.’
    • ‘This race has to be about basic questions of whether liberals and progressives can flourish in national politics.’
    • ‘We liberals and progressives and leftists have our own noble principles, our own beautiful abstract words.’
    • ‘Social surveillance, progressives argued, could and should enter the market to serve political ends.’
    • ‘There is an economic and social dimension to the case for electoral reform that progressives often ignore.’
    • ‘I'm a fiscal conservative and a social progressive.’
    innovator, reformer, reformist, liberal, libertarian, progressivist, progressionist, leftist, left-winger
    View synonyms
  • 2Grammar
    A progressive tense or aspect.

    ‘the present progressive’
    • ‘If the progressive can only be used with imperfectives, why is it not possible to use the progressive with quintessential examples of stative predicates, such as be tall and know French?’
    • ‘It is still possible to mark habitual with a + Verb, just like the progressive.’
    • ‘Have you ever read something that assiduously avoids all passives and progressives?’
    • ‘Again, this is clearly present progressive - it is what is happening right there and then he is referring to, not some habitual state of affairs.’
  • 3Printing
    Each of a set of proofs of colour work, showing all the colours separately and the cumulative effect of overprinting them.


Early 17th century: from French progressif, -ive or medieval Latin progressivus, from progress- gone forward, from the verb progredi (see progress).