Definition of reactionary in English:



  • (of a person or a set of views) opposing political or social liberalization or reform.

    • ‘Social tensions are so pronounced that even the reactionary clerics speak of reform.’
    • ‘Inside Haiti, the opposition has turned to the most reactionary elements.’
    • ‘In a professional army, the extent of deeply reactionary political sentiment is far greater.’
    • ‘We have a reactionary police force and they respond to the complaints of residents.’
    • ‘All political debate is funneled through two bourgeois and essentially reactionary parties.’
    • ‘The Times played a critical role in legitimizing this deeply reactionary campaign.’
    • ‘He considered peasants a reactionary force and peasant societies a drag on historical progress.’
    • ‘To make matters even worse, a Democratic president, Buchanan, gave his political support to these reactionary efforts.’
    • ‘The first is that the Democratic Party is constitutionally incapable of opposing the profoundly reactionary policies of the Republican right.’
    • ‘The fact that no one has claimed responsibility only underscores the profoundly reactionary character of these attacks.’
    • ‘All these policies are simply different sides of the same reactionary agenda.’
    • ‘It is a highly political ruling with reactionary consequences for both asylum-seekers and democratic rights as a whole.’
    • ‘By this point we have the perfect marriage of reactionary politics with suitably bad art.’
    • ‘But in addition to being erratic, Lewis has a particularly reactionary political agenda.’
    • ‘All in all, the five constituted a well-connected and thoroughly reactionary group.’
    • ‘In Trotsky's view this was a reactionary Utopia.’
    • ‘In 1932 the SPD supported a vote for the deeply reactionary Hindenburg as German president.’
    • ‘Can they proceed without grasping how the great mass upsurge of 1979 brought to power a thoroughly reactionary regime?’
    • ‘Chauvinist elements must not be permitted to channel the growing opposition to the social order in a reactionary direction.’
    right-wing, conservative, rightist, ultra-conservative
    blimpish, diehard
    traditionalist, conventional, traditional, old-fashioned, unprogressive
    View synonyms


  • A reactionary person.

    • ‘The Christian reactionaries who attempted to get Springer banned were clearly inspired by the success of the Sikh protests.’
    • ‘He was a subtle and effective reactionary.’
    • ‘Everything is done to keep the American people in the dark about the political and legal views of the reactionaries who are filling up the federal bench.’
    • ‘He is a follower of Iran's Khomeini and a radical reactionary on social issues.’
    • ‘With these aristocratic reactionaries, Tocqueville shared a painful sense of dislocation and loss.’
    • ‘All it did was scare the moderate Republicans into become utter reactionaries.’
    • ‘No mere reactionary, Schwartz was also interested in and informed about contemporary art that might look very different from his own.’
    • ‘Her tone was that of a conservative reactionary bemoaning the collapse of family values.’
    • ‘They are extreme reactionaries, bigots and thugs.’
    • ‘I also recall a left that was able to distinguish between conservatives and fascists, between social democrats and outright reactionaries.’
    • ‘Before you go about calling me a reactionary, it could be that future generations will view the horror of the music culture in the same light as the crack epidemic.’
    • ‘The lesson of the story was that from a long-term point of view, all reactionaries are paper tigers.’
    • ‘But I'm also no reactionary, in that I don't believe such a community has ever existed, not really.’
    • ‘Not just right-wing reactionaries, either, but people of enlightened education and humane outlook.’
    • ‘Buchanan is an extreme reactionary who espouses views of an essentially fascistic character.’
    • ‘He is an opportunist and a power hungry reactionary, I don't even see him ‘liberalising’ the economy.’
    • ‘Over a dozen foreign armies invaded Russia and joined up with reactionaries inside Russia in a civil war.’
    • ‘And that to believe otherwise is to be a heartless, right-wing reactionary.’
    • ‘It was hardly a socialist Utopia, but enough to earn the undying hatred of reactionaries like Winston Churchill.’
    • ‘This acted as the trigger for a series of civil wars, as reactionaries and progressives battled both with the French and each other.’
    right-winger, conservative, rightist, diehard, colonel blimp
    traditionalist, conventionalist
    View synonyms