radical

1 of 2

adjective

rad·​i·​cal ˈra-di-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio)
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
3
a
: 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
radicalness noun

radical

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a root part
b
: a basic principle : foundation
2
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
5
a
: a mathematical expression indicating a root by means of a radical sign

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
Father and son barely talk anymore, their relationship icy, their differences symbolic of a national rift made violently clear during the unrest more than two years ago: While many demand radical change, others ardently embrace tradition and the monarchy. John Eligon Joao Silva, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 The bishops urged radical change: Grant priestly powers to married men, breaking with the bedrock tenet of clerical celibacy, and increase the reach of the cloth. Bishop Sand, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2024 Torpedo 1936 — Spain Veteran American artist Alex Toth participated in the first steps of this radical series by Spanish scriptwriter Enrique Sánchez Abulí. Ernesto Lechner, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Feb. 2024 Our children shouldn’t face daily assaults on social media and in the classroom trying to sexualize them and indoctrinate them with radical gender ideology. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 And that can feel isolating, considering the radical changes going on in your body. Tiffany Ayuda, SELF, 14 Feb. 2024 But that kind of radical passivity can only go so far. David Sims, The Atlantic, 14 Feb. 2024 The original mall was vacated and razed in 2020 to make way for the radical reimagining of the site. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 14 Feb. 2024 So a radical Butler trade scenario wouldn’t create the cap space to be a major player in free agency this year or next year. Barry Jackson, Miami Herald, 6 Feb. 2024
Noun
In many ways, rock musician Wayne Kramer was a true radical. Steve Appleford, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2024 Their methods showed that some of air pollution’s most common chemical agents—ozone and nitrate radicals—significantly deteriorate the wildflower’s scent, deterring the moths from landing on polluted plants. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Feb. 2024 During his tenure, Pakistan witnessed a notable surge in Islamist militancy and the fortification of positions held by religious radicals. Kyra Colah, Fox News, 8 Feb. 2024 According to Camp, the hydrating salve is a solid choice for protecting mature skin from UV rays, as well as from free-oxygen radicals. Jenny Berg, Vogue, 1 Feb. 2024 But the speeches from McCarthy’s allies defending the Speaker gave too much to Gaetz’s radicals. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2023 The rest of us, however, shouldn’t go along with the radicals (or Thuh Science™) if their ideas and methods are simply bad and unscientific. Wilfred Reilly, National Review, 3 Jan. 2024 Images of the war—beamed to screens across the continent and flooding social media—are stirring Islamist radicals to lash out, European officials say, sometimes with deadly effect. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, 5 Dec. 2023 Same Bed Different Dreams By Ed Park Random House: 544 pages, $30 Park’s mind-bending second novel is in large part an alternative history of Korea, enveloping radicals, assassins, politicians and more. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, 5 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'radical.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near radical

Cite this Entry

“Radical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/radical. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

radical

1 of 2 adjective
rad·​i·​cal ˈrad-i-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root
2
a
: departing sharply from the usual or ordinary : extreme
b
: of or relating to radicals in politics
radically
-k(ə-)lē
adverb
radicalness noun

radical

2 of 2 noun
1
2
: a person who favors rapid and sweeping changes especially in laws and methods of government
3
: a group of atoms bonded together that is considered as a unit in various kinds of reactions
4
a
: a mathematical expression (as √͞ x) involving a radical sign
Etymology

Adjective

Middle English radical "relating to a root," from Latin radicalis (same meaning), from earlier radic-, radix "root" — related to eradicate, radish

Word Origin
Our word radical was formed from the Latin adjective radicalis, which simply meant "of or relating to a root." The Latin word radix meant "root." This meaning was kept when the word radicalis came into English as radical, but new senses developed too. Since a root is at the bottom of something, radical came to describe what is at the base or beginning, in other words, what is "basic, fundamental." Later, radical was used to describe something that was extremely different from the usual. Then, as a noun radical came to be applied to a person who wants to make extreme or "radical" changes in the government or in society. In mathematics, a radical sign indicates a root of a number. The words radish and eradicate also come from the Latin radix.

Medical Definition

radical

1 of 2 adjective
rad·​i·​cal ˈrad-i-kəl How to pronounce radical (audio)
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
radically adverb

radical

2 of 2 noun
: free radical
also : a group of atoms bonded together that is considered an entity in various kinds of reactions

More from Merriam-Webster on radical

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