re·​ac·​tive | \ rē-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce reactive (audio) \

Definition of reactive

1 : of, relating to, or marked by reaction or reactance
2a : readily responsive to a stimulus
b : occurring as a result of stress or emotional upset reactive depression

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from reactive

reactively adverb
reactiveness noun

Examples of reactive in a Sentence

The government's response to the problem was reactive rather than proactive.
Recent Examples on the Web But to date virtually all responses have been reactive. John Arquilla, Fortune, 9 Sep. 2021 Being proactive and reactive aren't dichotomous choices, by the way. Eugene Litvak, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Powell has also emphasized that the Fed will be less proactive and more reactive, waiting to adjust policy until economic data reach the mandate of full employment. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, 17 Mar. 2021 Katie Lafave, a school psychologist at the middle school, said that before the district received the additional funding, her work was purely reactive. al, 25 Aug. 2021 Jones pointedly criticized Herring’s handling of a series of high-profile encounters between police officers and people of color that grabbed headlines during the campaign, saying Herring was too reactive. Washington Post, 7 June 2021 This is in contrast to the more reactive approach of traditional cybersecurity defenses, which seek to block hackers from entering a network. James Rundle, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 Getting people to go to the doctor can be difficult under the current U.S. health care system — one that is often more reactive than proactive to illness and is expensive, even for people with health insurance. Laura Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Apr. 2021 Over time, smoke may form reactive compounds that can be especially damaging to the body once they are inhaled., 9 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reactive.' 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 reactive

1717, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About reactive

Time Traveler for reactive

Time Traveler

The first known use of reactive was in 1717

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near reactive



reactive arthritis

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for reactive

Last Updated

13 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reactive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for reactive



English Language Learners Definition of reactive

: done in response to a problem or situation : reacting to problems when they occur instead of doing something to prevent them
: tending to change into something else when mixed with another substance


re·​ac·​tive | \ rē-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce reactive (audio) \

Medical Definition of reactive

1a : of, relating to, or marked by reaction reactive symptoms a reactive process
b : capable of reacting chemically highly reactive materials
2a : readily responsive to a stimulus the skin of the geriatric is less reactive than that of younger persons— Louis Tuft
b : occurring as a result of stress or emotional upset especially from factors outside the organism reactive depression

More from Merriam-Webster on reactive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reactive

Britannica English: Translation of reactive for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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