- Reactionary is defined as opposed to big changes, or having an ultraconservative viewpoint.
An example of a reactionary view is the desire to stop federal funding for birth control.
- The definition of a reactionary is an ultraconservative person.
An example of a reactionary is a person who believes in no federal funding for health care.
Usage Note: Reactionary means “characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative.” Sometimes reactionary is used to mean “tending to overreact; very reactive,” but that sense is widely viewed as a mistake. In 2012, 86 percent of the Usage Panel found the sentence The principal is very reactionary; she responds to every little crisis by calling an emergency meeting to be unacceptable.
(comparative more reactionary, superlative most reactionary)
- One who is opposed to change.
- One who is very conservative.
From French rÃ©actionnaire. Used in the time of the French revolution to refer to a person opposing the revolution; as in a person favoring a reaction to the revolution. First known usage in English in a translation of Lazare Carnot's letter on the Conspiracy of the 18th Fructidor published in London, 1799.