verb (1)
re·​form | \ ri-ˈfȯrm How to pronounce reform (audio) \
reformed; reforming; reforms

Essential Meaning of reform

1 : to improve (someone or something) by removing or correcting faults, problems, etc. The program is designed to reform prisoners. They want to reform campaign spending. The laws need to be reformed.
2 : to improve your own behavior or habits The program is designed to help former gang members who are trying to reform.

Full Definition of reform

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to put or change into an improved form or condition
b : to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses
2 : to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action
3 : to induce or cause to abandon evil ways reform a drunkard
4a : to subject (hydrocarbons) to cracking
b : to produce (gasoline, gas, etc.) by cracking

intransitive verb

: to become changed for the better



Definition of reform (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : amendment of what is defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved
2 : removal or correction of errors or of an abuse or a wrong
3 capitalized : reform judaism



Definition of reform (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : relating to or favoring reform All of the great American reform movements—from civil rights to child-labor laws—started far from Washington, D.C. In state legislatures and town halls …— William Greider
2 Reform : of, relating to, or practicing Reform Judaism Reform Jews, by the end of the nineteenth century, had adopted the custom of rising to their feet to pronounce the Shema in unison.— Jonathan D. Sarna


verb (2)
\ (ˌ)rē-ˈfȯrm How to pronounce re-form (audio) \
re-formed; re-forming; re-forms

Definition of re-form (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to form again

intransitive verb

: to take form again the ice re-formed on the lake

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Other Words from reform

Verb (1)

reformability \ ri-​ˌfȯr-​mə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce re-form (audio) \ noun
reformable \ ri-​ˈfȯr-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce re-form (audio) \ adjective

Verb (2)

re-formation \ (ˌ)rē-​fȯr-​ˈmā-​shən How to pronounce re-form (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for reform

Synonyms: Verb (1)

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Choose the Right Synonym for reform

Verb (1)

correct, rectify, emend, remedy, redress, amend, reform, revise mean to make right what is wrong. correct implies taking action to remove errors, faults, deviations, defects. correct your spelling rectify implies a more essential changing to make something right, just, or properly controlled or directed. rectify a misguided policy emend specifically implies correction of a text or manuscript. emend a text remedy implies removing or making harmless a cause of trouble, harm, or evil. set out to remedy the evils of the world redress implies making compensation or reparation for an unfairness, injustice, or imbalance. redress past social injustices amend, reform, revise imply an improving by making corrective changes, amend usually suggesting slight changes amend a law , reform implying drastic change plans to reform the court system , and revise suggesting a careful examination of something and the making of necessary changes. revise the schedule

Examples of reform in a Sentence

Verb (1) The program is designed to reform prisoners. They want to reform campaign spending. The laws need to be reformed. The program is designed to help former gang members who are trying to reform. Noun A group of senators are calling for reform of the nation's health-care system. He has proposed a list of political reforms.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The system lurches along with its hair-on-fire approach, impervious to reform efforts, shortchanging taxpayers as well as patients., 31 Aug. 2021 When all the dough has been used, reform all the pieces into a ball and repeat the same operation. Mayukh Sen, The New Yorker, 24 Aug. 2021 Among their answers, some common themes: help small business owners navigate the city’s labyrinthine permitting process; reform the way liquor licenses are awarded and regulated; and keep thinking creatively about outdoor dining and public space., 9 Aug. 2021 Since becoming chief in 2020, Wilson has worked to reform the Aurora Police Department, terminating 14 officers for misconduct. CBS News, 29 July 2021 That's going to cause untold disruption to businesses trying to recover after 16 months of lockdown duress and many executives are calling on the British government to, at the very least, reform the self-isolation rules. Pan Pylas, Star Tribune, 19 July 2021 Allowing college athletes to earn money for their talent can only reform the NCAA because the entire scheme is a dodge and a hustle. Mary Helene Hall |, al, 6 Aug. 2021 Prompted by Britney Spears’ conservatorship fight, a bipartisan legislative effort has emerged to reform the process created to protect the rights of more than 1 million people across the United States under the protective arrangements. Meg Kinnard, Chron, 20 July 2021 Prompted by Britney Spears' conservatorship fight, a bipartisan legislative effort has emerged to reform the process created to protect the rights of more than 1 million people across the United States under the protective arrangements. Meg Kinnard, Star Tribune, 20 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The instructions also list corporate and international tax reform and Internal Revenue Service tax enforcement as options -- both of which Republicans shot down in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Tami Luhby And Katie Lobosco, CNN, 12 Sep. 2021 The ram’s horn, or shofar, is sounded throughout the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a call for Jews to reflect, reform and repent. Joe Lieberman, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2021 For now, Newsom and the state legislature are focussed on housing reform, homelessness, and an ambitious climate agenda; Californians are staring down an ongoing pandemic, rising housing costs, and increasingly extreme weather. Anna Wiene, The New Yorker, 8 Sep. 2021 His platform focuses on animal rights, criminal justice reform, public health and fire prevention. Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2021 But the major, almost daily policy announcements have focused mostly on other issues, including housing affordability, long-term-care reform and child care. Washington Post, 2 Sep. 2021 Why is Robert in line to inherit the throne when his sister, Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive), is the one pestering her dad about tax reform and public-works projects? David Sims, The Atlantic, 1 Sep. 2021 But Gudeman, like Spiro, grew increasingly frustrated and disillusioned by the lumbering pace of reform and decisions based more on political expediency than quality of care., 31 Aug. 2021 The Make Good Trouble Rally not only centered voting rights, but highlighted a range of issues: DC Statehood, ending the filibuster; stemming gun violence; reparations; immigration reform and climate change. Essence, 30 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Her anti-reform message plays well to a base of very reliable voters — older, whiter, more conservative., 3 Sep. 2021 Sandu, a former prime minister who used to lead the pro-reform Party of Action and Solidarity, or PAS, promised to clean up corruption, fight poverty and strengthen relations with the EU. Corneliu Rusnac And Stephen Mcgrath, Star Tribune, 11 July 2021 The interview was conducted by Saeed Leylaz, an economist and journalist who was an adviser to Mohammad Khatami, a pro-reform cleric who served two terms as Iran’s president. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2021 Skeptics say this basically brings back the pre-reform welfare system. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 13 Mar. 2021 But just days before the decision, López Obrador and his supporters came back with their counter-reform bill to the Legislature. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Mar. 2021 March marks nine years since Ahmed Ismail Hassan, a Bahraini videographer, was shot after filming a pro-reform protest. Wired Staff, Wired, 1 Feb. 2021 More board members in line with the district's pro-reform policies could ensure momentum continues for years to come. Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star, 4 Nov. 2020 In late September, two TJ parents would write a lengthy, anti-reform article in online magazine Quillette that attacked Didi specifically. Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of reform

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for reform

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French refurmer, from Latin reformare, from re- + formare to form, from forma form

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Time Traveler for reform

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

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reform.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for reform


re·​form | \ ri-ˈfȯrm How to pronounce reform (audio) \
reformed; reforming

Kids Definition of reform

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make better or improve by removal of faults The program reforms prisoners. The law should be reformed.
2 : to stop engaging in bad habits or behavior He promised to reform.

Other Words from reform

reformer \ ri-​ˈfȯr-​mər \ noun



Kids Definition of reform (Entry 2 of 2)

: the improvement of something by removing faults or problems political reform


transitive verb
re·​form | \ ri-ˈfȯrm How to pronounce reform (audio) \

Legal Definition of reform

1 : to put (a writing) into a corrected form that more accurately reflects the agreement of the parties allows a writing signed by mistake to be reformed— W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al. — compare ratify
2 : to induce or cause to abandon wrongful or harmful ways a reformed drug dealer

intransitive verb

: to become changed for the better

More from Merriam-Webster on reform

Nglish: Translation of reform for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reform for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about reform


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