When you reform something, you change it for the better. If you're running for President, you might promise to reform government, although it's easier to promise reform than to actually accomplish it.

If you take the parts of reform, re- and form, you can see that it means “to shape again.” We often use it to talk about correcting what's wrong in a system, and if you reform something, you make it better and more fair. Juvenile delinquents might be sent to reform school to become better people. Someone fighting alcoholism might try to reform her ways. It's not always about morals: in chemistry, you reform molecules by breaking them apart.

Definitions of reform
  1. verb
    make changes for improvement in order to remove abuse and injustices
    reform a political system”
  2. verb
    improve by alteration or correction of errors or defects and put into a better condition
    reform the health system in this country”
  3. noun
    a change for the better as a result of correcting abuses
    “justice was for sale before the reform of the law courts”
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    land reform
    a redistribution of agricultural land (especially by government action)
    moralisation, moralization
    the act of making moral (or more moral)
    (figurative) the act of reforming by the removal of unwanted personnel or practices or conditions
    type of:
    the act of improving something
  4. noun
    a campaign aimed to correct abuses or malpractices
    “the reforms he proposed were too radical for the politicians”
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    type of:
    campaign, cause, crusade, drive, effort, movement
    a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end
  5. verb
    bring, lead, or force to abandon a wrong or evil course of life, conduct, and adopt a right one
    “The Church reformed me”
    reform your conduct”
    synonyms: reclaim, rectify, regenerate
    see the light, straighten out
    change for the better
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    moralise, moralize
    improve the morals of
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  6. verb
    change for the better
    “The lazy student promised to reform
    synonyms: see the light, straighten out
    reclaim, rectify, regenerate
    bring, lead, or force to abandon a wrong or evil course of life, conduct, and adopt a right one
  7. noun
    self-improvement in behavior or morals by abandoning some vice
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    type of:
    self-improvement, self-reformation
    the act of improving yourself
  8. verb
    produce by cracking
    reform gas”
  9. verb
    break up the molecules of
    reform oil”
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    type of:
    change integrity
    change in physical make-up
Word Family

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