re·​ac·​tion·​ary rē-ˈak-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce reactionary (audio)
: relating to, marked by, or favoring reaction
especially : ultraconservative in politics
reactionary noun
reactionaryism noun

Examples of reactionary in a Sentence

reactionary guardians of proper English usage invariably regard every new coinage that comes along as a nonword
Recent Examples on the Web Some of that’s just my (ossified, reactionary, vulgar, horrible) taste. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 4 Dec. 2023 The story of Icaria begins in France during the July Monarchy of 1830 to 1848, when the radical spirit of the French Revolution gave way to a bourgeois government of conservative and reactionary officials. John Last, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Nov. 2023 Since the rise of Donald Trump and his reactionary populist politics, NBC News’ chief political analyst Chuck Todd wonders whether the U.S. is in for its own 1968 moment in 2024. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 That veneer began to crack in the reactionary ‘80s, however, with a backlash to her follow-up studies on male sexuality and relationship discontentment. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Elon Musk destroyed Twitter, apparently as part of a reactionary political project against the press, and made a number of decisions that resulted in its replacement, X, being flooded with garbage. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 3 Nov. 2023 Partly this was because voters rebuffed the Vox party, which is further to the PP’s right, amid a global media campaign warning the party was reactionary on social policy and a threat to Spain’s standing in the EU. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Traveling through North Carolina proved especially difficult, with participants facing numerous arrests and a violent altercation instigated by reactionary white taxi drivers. Zachary Clary, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Nov. 2023 Given the recent economic volatility, this is understandable, but reactionary strategies may not position companies for success in a recovery. Steve Gallucci, Fortune, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1815, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reactionary was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near reactionary

Cite this Entry

“Reactionary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: of, relating to, or favoring old-fashioned political or social ideas


2 of 2 noun
plural reactionaries
: a reactionary person

More from Merriam-Webster on reactionary

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