radical

adjective
rad·​i·​cal | \ ˈra-di-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio) \

Definition of radical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: such as
a(1) : of or growing from the root of a plant radical tubers
(2) : growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground radical leaves
b : of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root
c : of or relating to a mathematical root
d : designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue radical surgery radical mastectomy
2 : of or relating to the origin : fundamental
3a : very different from the usual or traditional : extreme
b : favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c : associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change
d : advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs the radical right
4 slang : excellent, cool

radical

noun

Definition of radical (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a root part
b : a basic principle : foundation
b : a sound or letter belonging to a radical
3 : one who is radical
4 : free radical also : a group of atoms bonded together that is considered an entity in various kinds of reactions or as a subunit of a larger molecule
5a : a mathematical expression indicating a root by means of a radical sign

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from radical

Adjective

radicalness noun

Examples of radical in a Sentence

Adjective The computer has introduced radical innovations. There are some radical differences between the two proposals. The new president has made some radical changes to the company. a radical wing of extremists Noun He was a radical when he was young, but now he's much more moderate. radicals staged large, violent protests in the hopes of toppling the government
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Polls show that the Black Lives Matter movement, considered radical only a few years ago, is now supported by the majority of Americans. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: NFL's gestures in confronting racism are meaningless so long as Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned," 3 July 2020 Who would have guessed that radical leftists and President Trump had so much in common? Matthew Walther, TheWeek, "Requiem for CHAZ," 2 July 2020 Neil Gorsuch, who joined Thomas’s concurrence in Selia Law, has also taken radical stances in other cases. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Elena Kagan’s Fiery Defense of the Administrative State," 2 July 2020 In addition to revealing the radical dimensions of a civil rights icon who's often flattened to his non-violence mantra, the essay helps us to understand why the current Black Lives Matter protests, fueled by years of organizing, feel so impactful. CNN, "Performative activism, MLK and the BET Awards: A look back at the week in race and culture," 2 July 2020 Frater believes Prince Harry is in a perfect position to show leadership, especially in these days of radical, fast-moving change. Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com, "Prince Harry Surprises Princess Diana Award Charity on What Would Have Been His Mom's 59th Birthday," 1 July 2020 Floyd's case, and those like it, have sparked calls for radical change to the way police departments are structured and funded. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "George Floyd's niece: 'When has America ever been great?'," 9 June 2020 From then until recently, spotty surveillance has offered important, semi-appropriate means of generating innovation and productive adaptation to radical technical change. Matt Beane, Wired, "To Adapt to Tech, We're Heading Into the Shadows," 8 June 2020 These are less radical than those put forward by Democrats but support the creation of a database to track police officers with a record of misconduct. The Economist, "Politics this week," 20 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The pose of the radical has been subverted to capitalist ends. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "Covid-19 and Living Through a New American Revolution," 23 June 2020 All of this will make the project of defining Biden negatively more difficult, particularly if Trump tries to paint him as a radical to scare white voters. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "This Is How Trump Plans to Beat Biden," 21 June 2020 Federal agencies issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning of the threat from anti-government radicals and white supremacists ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "FBI warns of 'persistent' threat from domestic extremists ahead of 25th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing," 17 Apr. 2020 Levenson doesn’t privilege any particular point of view — various characters have different outlooks and pragmatists, traditionalists, radicals and go-along conformists all get their moment to speak out. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "In powerful 'If I Forget' at Victory Gardens, a family fights over Jewish identity," 17 June 2019 Boudin was adopted by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, also Weather Underground radicals, and spent most of his childhood in Chicago. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "SF DA candidate knows pain of prison: His radical dad is locked up," 17 Sep. 2019 Biden’s list would offer Republicans an opportunity to highlight, with great specificity, the kind of radicals the Democrats would appoint. David Harsanyi, National Review, "A Joe Biden SCOTUS List Would Be Good News . . .," 23 Apr. 2020 There were other issues, to be sure, and the New Left—the 1960s movement of student radicals that spread from Madison to Berkeley to everywhere—pressed a broader critique of American society; but McGovern’s was fundamentally an antiwar candidacy. Michael Tomasky, The New York Review of Books, "The Party Cannot Hold," 27 Feb. 2020 For me, and for many fourth-wave feminists raised on Tumblr and pink-haired radicals, this isn’t a difficult feeling to manifest. Marie Southard Ospina, refinery29.com, "Why I Let My Young Daughters Play With Makeup," 30 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'radical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of radical

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for radical

Adjective

Middle English, from Late Latin radicalis, from Latin radic-, radix root — more at root

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about radical

Time Traveler for radical

Time Traveler

The first known use of radical was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for radical

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Radical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/radical. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for radical

radical

adjective
How to pronounce radical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of radical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
: very basic and important
: having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

radical

noun

English Language Learners Definition of radical (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who favors extreme changes in government : a person who has radical political opinions

radical

adjective
rad·​i·​cal | \ ˈra-di-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio) \

Kids Definition of radical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : very new and different from the usual or ordinary : extreme a radical change
2 : of or relating to people who favor rapid and sweeping changes in laws and government

Other Words from radical

radically adverb

radical

noun

Kids Definition of radical (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who favors rapid and sweeping changes especially in laws and government

radical

adjective
rad·​i·​cal | \ ˈrad-i-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio) \

Medical Definition of radical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased tissue radical surgery
2 : involving complete removal of an organ radical prostatectomy — compare conservative

Other Words from radical

radically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce radically (audio) \ adverb

radical

noun

Medical Definition of radical (Entry 2 of 2)

: free radical also : a group of atoms bonded together that is considered an entity in various kinds of reactions

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on radical

What made you want to look up radical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!