Definition of nonconformist in US English:



  • 1A person whose behavior or views do not conform to prevailing ideas or practices.

    • ‘While popular writers conform to the rules of the dominant culture, literary authors are nonconformists, true to their own vision.’
    • ‘So a Republican in Hollywood is a true nonconformist.’
    • ‘One nonconformist, New York Times reporter Barry Bearak, gave $250 to a Green Party candidate.’
    • ‘One explanation is that, unlike farmers and trade unionists, sexual nonconformists did not have enough of a following to legitimize their opposition to majority norms.’
    • ‘From the 1950s to the '70s it suppressed dissent, it harassed nonconformists and there's good evidence that it damaged the careers of some of our most unconventional writers and thinkers.’
    • ‘The Beatles liked to be thought of as eccentric nonconformists.’
    • ‘They can be described as visionaries, revolutionaries, radicals, liberals, nonconformists, outsiders, insurgents, prophets, pathfinders.’
    • ‘While Michael Adams, who was very much a nonconformist, may have taken him under his wing for a while, the cultural politics of the University at the time I was living there were still quite elitist.’
    • ‘My ideas of free speech, democracy, and religious tolerance followed to win over even the most stubborn of nonconformists.’
    • ‘Current or former teenage girls are strongly advised to see Ghost World at their earliest convenience, particularly if they're current or former misfits and/or nonconformists.’
    • ‘For the post-Soviet KGB, which still occupied the same armada of buildings in historic central Moscow, there were no more ideological nonconformists to persecute.’
    • ‘In an irony now so familiar as to be reflexive, young professionals lured by the charm of a boho district wind up crowding out the very nonconformists who gave the neighborhood its character.’
    • ‘Although moderate nonconformists did confront and disobey civil and ecclesiastical governments, their opposition was distinguished by an advocacy of non-violent defiance as the proper response of the godly.’
    • ‘They also pressure nonconformists to adhere to group mores.’
    • ‘In the last couple of years, though, a crop of novels has appeared which, like these two classics, combine pleasure with politics, and carefully reinforce the prejudices of nonconformists everywhere.’
    • ‘A dissident is a nonconformist, a protestor or a rebel who disagrees with the majority view on anything from politics, to religion, to which football team is the best.’
    • ‘Instead of doing things simply because that's the way they've always been done, these nonconformists are turning elsewhere - to science, for instance - in search of more efficient ways.’
    • ‘Lee's was the voice of the teenage nonconformist, looking for kicks in a boring suburb, diffident at best about the family structures by which he was nevertheless completely defined.’
    • ‘The trouble for me was having to decide between a black tank that read ‘You nonconformists are all alike’ and a red T-shirt that had the AP logo on the front.’
    • ‘This view prevailed among nonconformists, of course, not least among them Cartwright himself and Richard Baxter a century later.’
    dissenter, dissentient, protester, rebel, renegade, freethinker, apostate, heretic, schismatic, recusant, seceder, individualist, free spirit, maverick, unorthodox person, eccentric, original, deviant, misfit, hippy, dropout, fish out of water, outsider
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  • 2NonconformistA member of a Protestant church in England that dissents from the established Anglican Church.

    • ‘Born into a dissenting family of Nonconformists, a precursor to the Christian socialist tradition, Blake railed against the powers of both Church and Crown.’
    • ‘In keeping with the times, George was a strict, church-going Anglican who nevertheless admired Nonconformists.’
    • ‘And that of course, resulted in the development of what they used to call the Dissenters, or Nonconformists.’
    • ‘The Church people and Nonconformists willingly joined together for this good cause, and made the undertaking very successful.’
    • ‘He had to choose a Scottish university if he was to obtain his education without going overseas since, at this time, Nonconformists were not allowed to matriculate at Oxford or Cambridge.’


  • 1Of or characterized by behavior or views that do not conform to prevailing ideas or practices.

    • ‘The ‘caucus’ was a group of self-appointed local notables, often nonconformist business men, and usually strongly critical of the Liberal Party leadership as being too cautious and too aristocratic.’
    • ‘His followers believed people were inherently evil and nonconformist thought was a capital punishment.’
    • ‘Hers is an ambitious and comprehensive philosophy that promises to preserve the institution's nonconformist legacy.’
    • ‘It is typical of his nonconformist approach that he can say: ‘At this stage, it's all about structure and telling the story.’’
    • ‘Under Stalin's tyranny, the doctrine was employed as a pretext for the persecution and silencing of nonconformist writers.’
    • ‘It does something rare in contemporary American filmmaking: it takes a sober and nonconformist look at certain complex aspects of contemporary social life.’
    • ‘Given the peculiarities of the Nazi state and the lack of an active nonconformist tradition, there could be no unified mass resistance movement in Germany.’
    • ‘Despite its rather nonconformist looks, the latest Nissan Micra has done exceptionally well and now tops the category with 3,496 sales.’
    • ‘The nonconformist painter's incompatibility with French colonial life provided Maugham with a pretext to explore the role of the artist in society.’
    • ‘The advent of universal voting rights was preceded by a great deal of fretting on the part of liberal thinkers about whether an enfranchised majority would crush civil liberties or suppress nonconformist behaviour.’
    • ‘Gradually their nonconformist business elites improved public health and evolved traditions of voluntary activity, local pride and artistic patronage.’
    • ‘When the flower children of the 1960s chose the nonconformist road, many of them traveled in unassuming Volkswagen bugs.’
    • ‘For this, particular thanks are due to the punk and metal movements, partly for their nonconformist spirit and partly for pioneering the idea that musical ability was merely an advantage, rather than a requirement, for starting a band.’
    • ‘Priestley's nonconformist views and his support for the French Revolution brought him into conflict with the Government and many people, including George III, believed he was an atheist.’
    • ‘His fiercely nonconformist parents, small shopkeepers, brutally opposed and curbed his bent for painting.’
    • ‘We speculate that these subcultural forces involve the participant in a social system that devalues nonconformist beliefs and unconventional attitudes and behaviors frequently associated with adolescent smokers.’
    • ‘The Quakers were, and still are, nonconformist pacifists.’
    • ‘They include a substantial number of international students, and they have a decidedly nonconformist campus culture.’
    • ‘The defence case was lost but their friendship continued, possibly cemented by links of nonconformist religion and an infectious sense of fun as well as chemistry itself.’
    • ‘Gladstone had long been a close friend of Michael Faraday, in whom nonconformist religion and science were also united, and wrote one of the earliest and most popular biographies of Faraday.’
    unusual, irregular, unorthodox, unfamiliar, uncommon, uncustomary, unwonted, rare, out of the ordinary, atypical, singular, distinctive, individual, individualistic, free-spirited, alternative, different
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  • 2NonconformistRelating to Nonconformists or their principles and practices.

    • ‘They were British and they were Nonconformist.’
    • ‘Dr Masters said that these principles were at one time taken for granted by Nonconformist preachers.’
    • ‘It was the first Nonconformist chapel in the area.’
    • ‘At the city's apex resided a local elite of merchants and professionals who were proudly middle-class and predominantly Nonconformist.’
    • ‘It stands in marked contrast to what (both in the Anglican and Nonconformist traditions) has prevailed from the Reformation onwards.’