Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From French réactionnaire[1]. Used in the time of the French revolution to refer to a person opposing the revolution; as in a person favoring a reaction to the revolution. First known usage in English in a translation of Lazare Carnot's letter on the Conspiracy of the 18th Fructidor published in London, 1799.



reactionary (comparative more reactionary, superlative most reactionary)

  1. Politically favoring a return to a golden age of the past.
    • 2011 September 29, Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, New York: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, OL 25101368M, page 25:
      There's a fairly simple reason for the embrace of radicalism on the right, and it has to do with the reactionary imperative that lies at the core of conservative doctrine. [] If he is to preserve what he values, the conservative must declare war against the culture as it is.
    • 2019 August 7, Marissa Brostoff and Noah Kulwin, “The Right Kind of Continuity”, in Jewish Currents[1]:
      [Jeffrey] Epstein was interested in transhumanism, a theory of human perfection via technological manipulation that—like its predecessor, eugenics—is shot through with racist and reactionary ideas.
  2. (chemistry) Of, pertaining to, participating in or inducing a chemical reaction.
    • 2013, Brandon Smith, Are Individuals The Property Of The Collective?
      Psychiatry extends the theory into biology in the belief that all human behavior is nothing more than a series of reactionary chemical processes in the brain that determine pre-coded genetic responses built up from the conditioning of one’s environment.
  3. In reaction to, as a result of. [2]
    • 2020 December 16, “Network News: ORR praises Network Rail's response to pandemic”, in Rail, page 13:
      The regulator noted that reduced service levels and passenger numbers helped deliver strong performance, with fewer reactionary delays.




reactionary (plural reactionaries)

  1. One who is opposed to change and wants to reverse it.
  2. One who is very conservative.


Further reading[edit]

  • "reactionary" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 256.
  • Wikipedia-logo.svg reactionary on Wikipedia.Wikipedia