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[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv]

adjective:

  1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
  2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.

  3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.

  4. ( often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.

  5. ( initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.

noun:

  1. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
  2. a supporter of conservative political policies.

  3. ( initial capital letter ) a member of a conservative political party, especially the Conservative party in Great Britain.

  4. a preservative. (Uncommon)


Origin: 1350–1400; < Late Latin conservātīvus, equivalent to Latin conservāt ( us ) (see conservation) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English conservatif < Middle French < Latin, as above

Related forms:
con·serv·a·tive·ly, adverb
con·serv·a·tive·ness, noun
an·ti·con·serv·a·tive, adjective, noun
an·ti·con·serv·a·tive·ly, adverb
an·ti·con·serv·a·tive·ness, noun


As a modern political tradition, conservatism traces to Edmund Burke's opposition to the French Revolution (1790), but the word conservative is not found in his writing. It was coined by his French disciples, (e.g. Chateaubriand, who titled his journal defending clerical and political restoration "Le Conservateur"). Used by the Liberal press to mean "Idiot"