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

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

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)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The league-wide scandal last fall, which encompassed coaches, team ownership, front-office personnel and eventually the NWSL leadership, was so damaging, for a time there was fear the NWSL would have to disband and reform under a different name. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 The claim: Amid Musk Twitter deal, Jen Psaki said White House will reform Section 230 After billionaire Elon Musk announced plans to acquire Twitter in a $44 billion deal, debates on free speech materialized online. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 3 May 2022 This proves that states can effectively reform payday lending to include strong consumer protections, ensure widespread access to credit, and reduce the financial burden on struggling families. Bill Hardekopf, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 But Democrats don't have the votes required to end or reform the filibuster, either. Brandon Tensley, CNN, 17 Jan. 2022 The administration should repeal or reform the investing rules that favor the wealthy and effectively discriminate against many minority communities. Peter Rex, Fortune, 20 Dec. 2021 But as Europe tries to reform itself, the American President fails to step up. Samir Puri, WSJ, 30 Mar. 2022 Those who try to reform it from within often get swept aside. Arielle Pardes, Wired, 11 Mar. 2022 Similarly, her voice doesn’t bother with the familiar mournful trappings of most protest singers — listening to her curt, firm delivery is more likely to elicit exasperation with the entire human endeavor than a desire to reform it. Joe Lynch, Billboard, 29 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Shoigu’s appointment as defense minister delighted the generals looking to get rid of his reform-minded predecessor who went down in a corruption scandal. Washington Post, 8 May 2022 Biden also proposed an ambitious spending package along with support for reform bills on voting and labor rights that have come to nothing in Congress. Damon Linker, The Week, 19 Apr. 2022 The democratic reform bills have since fallen off the political map entirely. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 18 Apr. 2022 Villanueva criticized the ambassador proposal and other reform-minded initiatives. Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 The change reverses part of Indiana's landmark criminal justice reform bills from the mid-2010s, which resulted in sending most of those people into local jails. Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Mar. 2022 More reform bills are likely to be introduced in the coming year that could threaten services to communities hit hardest by mass incarceration and poverty, said Jim Keddy, executive director of the advocacy organization Youth Forward. NBC News, 16 Feb. 2022 There's the China competition legislation and election reform bills. Phil Mattingly, CNN, 10 Feb. 2022 In Wisconsin, where President Joe Biden beat Trump by only about 21,000 votes, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen election reform bills, mainly targeted at the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Lalee Ibssa, ABC News, 10 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Actual corporate tax revenue in 2021 was $46 billion higher than the Congressional Budget Office’s post-reform forecast. Tyler Goodspeed, WSJ, 8 May 2022 Under Mullins’ nearly two decades of leadership, the union has fought for better pay — with contracts resulting in pay increases of 40% — and staked a prominent position in the anti-reform movement., 6 Oct. 2021 The initial results also showed that pro-reform candidates who emerged from the 2019 protests had gained several seats in the 329-member parliament. Reuters, CNN, 12 Oct. 2021 The initial results also showed that pro-reform candidates who emerged from the 2019 protests had gained several seats in the 329-member parliament. NBC News, 12 Oct. 2021 Under Mullins’ nearly two decades of leadership, the union has fought for better pay – with contracts resulting in pay increases of 40% – and staked a prominent position in the anti-reform movement. Michael R. Sisak, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2021 The pugilistic rhetoric sheds light on where the post-reform coalition education debate will lead. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, 30 Sep. 2021 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 See More

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.

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

Learn More About reform

Time Traveler for reform

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near reform




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for reform

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reform.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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