Definition of conservative in English:


Syllabification: con·serv·a·tive
Pronunciation: /kənˈsərvətiv


  • 1Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
    More example sentences
    • The rapid rise of the green movement is an example of this, because it appeals to traditional conservative values.
    • Lewis was an old-fashioned Christian, and those who consider the church to be too interested in modernising see him as a hero of religious orthodoxy and conservative values.
    • His parents weren't party-political, but he was certainly brought up with traditionally conservative values.
    traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, hidebound, unadventurous, set in one's ways; moderate, middle-of-the-road, buttoned-down
    informal stick-in-the-mud
  • 1.1(Of dress or taste) sober and conventional: a conservative suit
    More example sentences
    • The many suits and ties and other conservative dress worn by the crowd yesterday reflected the upscale membership of much of the organisation.
    • The best advice I was always given by peers was to dress in a conservative suit with modest accessories at the interview.
    • Not only are the quantities of meat large, but the fact that there are people who want to eat dried rat bat, or even monkey meat comes as a surprise to those of us whose tastes are more conservative.
    conventional, sober, modest, plain, unobtrusive, restrained, subtle, low-key, demure, unshowy, unflashy
    informal square, straight
  • 1.2(Of an estimate) purposely low for the sake of caution: the film was not cheap—$30,000 is a conservative estimate
    More example sentences
    • The number of women trafficked for this purpose is unknown, although conservative estimates put the number in the millions.
    • The combat capability of such a servicemen could be compared, even by conservative estimates, to that of a modern section or even platoon.
    • Those sorts of considerations are why I said $440 billion was a conservative estimate, which is admittedly a bit crazy just to say, but there it is.
    low, cautious, understated, moderate, reasonable
  • 1.3(Of surgery or medical treatment) intended to control rather than eliminate a condition, with existing tissue preserved as far as possible.
    More example sentences
    • The trial randomized 1,033 patients in 27 countries to early surgery or conservative treatment.
    • If conservative treatment fails, surgery to excise any bone spurs and debridement of the retrocalcaneal bursa may be helpful.
    • For patients who do not respond to conservative treatment, surgery should be considered.
  • 1.4 (Conservative) Of or relating to the Conservative Party of Great Britain or a similar party in another country.
    More example sentences
    • The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are contesting every seat.
    • An important factor in this was the experience of eighteen years of Conservative government.
    • At the same time we had just emerged from a long period of Conservative government.
    right-wing, reactionary, traditionalist; Republican; British Tory
    informal redneck


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  • 1A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.
    More example sentences
    • They saw fascists as more patriotic and determined than traditional conservatives.
    • So the claim that there are conservatives who believe in some sort of absolute liberty is a total straw man.
    • The antagonism between conservatives and progressives in Korea has a long history.
  • 1.1 (Conservative) A supporter or member of the Conservative Party of Great Britain or a similar party in another country.
    More example sentences
    • Around them stand officials and party workers from the Conservatives and Lib Dems.
    • The Scottish National Party and Conservatives are expected to oppose the building.
    • There has never been a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.



Pronunciation: /kənˈsərvəˌtizəm/
More example sentences
  • One of the main criticisms of political access programmes in decades past was their staidness and conservatism.
  • The new conservatism has little in common with its classical counterpart.
  • Look even deeper, though, below that conservatism, and there's a wild and crazy heart.


More example sentences
  • It is not known how many Irish children are affected overall, but it is conservatively estimated to be at least 10,000.
  • The firm is family-controlled and conservatively managed.
  • He dresses more conservatively, even speaks differently.


More example sentences
  • Because the desire to combine conflicting data is strong in real studies, the conservativeness of the present test is unlikely to be a major concern for some.
  • And similarly, if the central bank is fully under the spell of government, the conservativeness of the central bank does not matter.
  • Physicists generally maintain a healthy skepticism about whatever they hear and are much less susceptible to dogmatic conservativeness than one might think.


late Middle English (in the sense 'aiming to preserve'): from late Latin conservativus, from conservat- 'conserved', from the verb conservare (see conserve). Current senses date from the mid 19th century onward.

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