Definition of reform in English:

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Pronunciation: /rəˈfôrm/


[with object]
1Make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it: an opportunity to reform and restructure an antiquated schooling model
More example sentences
  • Its aim was to help such countries to acquire technology and sustainability by reforming their institutions and improving their competitiveness.
  • This means not only refurbishing existing institutions, reforming committees and the like, but building new political sites.
  • A Westcliff security company has embarked on a campaign to reform working practices in the security business.
improve, better, make better, ameliorate, refine;
alter, make alterations to, change, adjust, make adjustments to, adapt, amend, revise, reshape, refashion, redesign, restyle, revamp, rebuild, reconstruct, remodel, reorganize
1.1Bring about a change in (someone) so that they no longer behave in an immoral, criminal, or self-destructive manner: the state has a duty to reform criminals (as adjective reformed) a reformed gambler
More example sentences
  • It's a semi-auto biographical novel about a cop, Detective chief Inspector Jack Priestley, and his best friend, reformed criminal Steve Blade.
  • There is definitely enough money to set up institutions to reform people who are criminals.
  • They took it in turns to visit the prison each day and to read from the Bible, believing that hearing the Bible had the power to reform people.
1.2 [no object] (Of a person) change oneself for the better: it was only when his drunken behavior led to blows that he started to reform
More example sentences
  • I do not believe in the criminal's ability to reform, or their ability to name negative life factors as being a contributory factor to their crime.
  • And the Grinch is so much fun when he's bad, it's something of a disappointment when he reforms, realising along with the rest of Whoville that Christmas is about more than spending money.
  • In the end he reforms, because - to put it in Madonna terms - ‘efforts are made.’
mend one's ways, change for the better, turn over a new leaf, improve
2 Chemistry Subject (hydrocarbons) to a catalytic process in which straight-chain molecules are converted to branched forms for use in gasoline.
Example sentences
  • For example, hydrogen is made via electrolysis or by reforming hydrocarbons, and both methods take a lot of electricity - most of which comes from burning fossil fuels.
  • The most polluting methods are the ones that rely on reforming hydrocarbons inside the car.
  • Most fuel cells on the market combine atmospheric oxygen with hydrogen generated by reforming methanol or methane to make electricity, with water as a byproduct.


The action or process of reforming an institution or practice: the reform of the divorce laws economic reforms
More example sentences
  • If we want continued economic success we must continue the process of economic reform.
  • In this case constitutional reform or more representative institutions are undesirable, since they are as likely to impede as to accelerate modernisation.
  • The process of economic reform had inevitably increased individual autonomy.
improvement, amelioration, refinement;
alteration, change, adaptation, amendment, revision, reshaping, refashioning, redesigning, restyling, revamp, revamping, renovation, rebuilding, reconstruction, remodeling, reorganizing, reorganization


Of, denoting, or pertaining to Reform Judaism: a Reform rabbi
More example sentences
  • Before becoming affiliated with a Reform Temple, I was a Messianic Jew, quote/unquote.
  • At any rate, Gamaliel's liturgy has determined the form and much of the content of Jewish prayer, Reform as well as Orthodox, to the present day.
  • Sephardic liturgy has an essential beauty and to me Reform is church-like - it's not genuine.



Pronunciation: /rəˈfôrməb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • They are in essence moderate reformists who believe the party is reformable: one of the chapters in the book is a glowing tribute to the fairness of Premier Wen Jiabao, who was just a simple official at one time.
  • The sustained popularity of Restoration drama had made the reformable rake and the miraculously converted tyrant familiar and acceptable, if not wholly ‘natural,’ characters by the 1740s.
  • Instead, say the authors, militants should focus on reformable imbalances, such as agricultural subsidies.


Pronunciation: /rəˈfôrmədiv/
Example sentences
  • Such concerns are all the more valid, considering the slight but visible difference detected even within the ruling circles between a more reformative party and a somewhat stability-oriented administration.
  • For a film that professes to be about the street-fights of politics and the reformative power of youth, ‘Yuva’ manages to avoid, as far as possible, any direct look at sleaze and violence.
  • In this regard, correctional and reformative efforts are being constantly carried out to suit the requirements of the prisoner welfare and rehabilitation programmes.


Middle English (as a verb in the senses 'restore (peace)' and 'bring back to the original condition'): from Old French reformer or Latin reformare, from re- 'back' + formare 'to form, shape'. The noun dates from the mid 17th century.

  • form from Middle English:

    Form goes back to Latin forma ‘a mould or form’, and is an element in many English words such as conform (Middle English) make like something else; deform (Late Middle English) ‘mis-shape’; and reform (Middle English) ‘put back into shape’. Formal (Late Middle English) originally meant ‘relating to form’, and developed the sense ‘prim, stiff’ in the early 16th century. Format (mid 19th century) came via French and German from Latin formatus (liber) ‘shaped (book)’. Formula (early 17th century) was in Latin a ‘little form’ and was at first a fixed form of words used in ceremonies. Use in chemistry is from the mid 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·form

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