A revolutionary person fearlessly advocates radical change. Revolutionary people and ideas challenge the status quo and might be violent or willing to upset the natural order to achieve their goals.

Like the word revolve, it's all about turning things around. Revolutionary leaders want to change the world by any means necessary. Before he was the coolest face on a T-shirt, Che Guevara was ready to die for change in South America (and in fact, he did). You don't need to be violent to be revolutionary, just ask Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King. You don't even need to be political. Alexander McQueen, John Lennon, and Picasso could tell you that.

Primary Meanings of revolutionary

markedly new or introducing radical change
a radical supporter of political or social revolution
of or relating to or characteristic or causing an axial or orbital turn
Full Definitions of revolutionary

adj markedly new or introducing radical change

“a revolutionary discovery”
not of long duration; having just (or relatively recently) come into being or been made or acquired or discovered

adj relating to or having the nature of a revolution

revolutionary wars”
“the Revolutionary era”

adj advocating or engaged in revolution

revolutionary pamphlets”
“a revolutionary junta”
marked by opposition or antipathy to revolution

n a radical supporter of political or social revolution

revolutionist, subversive, subverter
show 16 examples...
hide 16 examples...
Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armont
French revolutionary heroine (a Girondist) who assassinated Marat (1768-1793)
Georges Jacques Danton
French revolutionary leader who stormed the Paris bastille and who supported the execution of Louis XVI but was guillotined by Robespierre for his opposition to the Reign of Terror (1759-1794)
Ernesto Guevara
an Argentine revolutionary leader who was Fidel Castro's chief lieutenant in the Cuban revolution; active in other Latin American countries; was captured and executed by the Bolivian army (1928-1967)
Mao Tsetung
Chinese communist leader (1893-1976)
Jean Paul Marat
French revolutionary leader (born in Switzerland) who was a leader in overthrowing the Girondists and was stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday (1743-1793)
Jose Julian Marti
Cuban poet and revolutionary who fought for Cuban independence from Spain (1853-1895)
Karl Marx
founder of modern communism; wrote the Communist Manifesto with Engels in 1848; wrote Das Kapital in 1867 (1818-1883)
Honore-Gabriel Victor Riqueti
French revolutionary who was prominent in the early days of the French Revolution (1749-1791)
Maxmillien Marie Isidore de Robespierre
French revolutionary; leader of the Jacobins and architect of the Reign of Terror; was himself executed in a coup d'etat (1758-1794)
Lev Davidovich Bronstein
Russian revolutionary and Communist theorist who helped Lenin and built up the army; he was ousted from the Communist Party by Stalin and eventually assassinated in Mexico (1879-1940)
Francisco Villa
Mexican revolutionary leader (1877-1923)
Emiliano Zapata
Mexican revolutionary who led a revolt for agrarian reforms (1879-1919)
Chou En-lai
Chinese revolutionary and communist leader (1898-1976)
Nat Turner
United States slave and insurrectionist who in 1831 led a rebellion of slaves in Virginia; he was captured and executed (1800-1831)
Denmark Vesey
United States freed slave and insurrectionist in South Carolina who was involved in planning an uprising of slaves and was hanged (1767-1822)
Sir William Wallace
Scottish insurgent who led the resistance to Edward I; in 1297 he gained control of Scotland briefly until Edward invaded Scotland again and defeated Wallace and subsequently executed him (1270-1305)
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
counter-revolutionist, counterrevolutionary, counterrevolutionist
a revolutionary whose aim is to reverse the changes introduced by an earlier revolution
dynamiter, dynamitist
a person who uses dynamite in a revolutionary cause
Girondin, Girondist
a member of the moderate republican party that was in power during the French Revolution; the Girondists were overthrown by their more radical rivals the Jacobins
freedom fighter, insurgent, insurrectionist, rebel
a person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions)
someone who is openly rebellious and refuses to obey authorities (especially seamen or soldiers)
Young Turk
a member of one or more of the insurgent groups in Turkey in the late 19th century who rebelled against the absolutism of Ottoman rule
Type of:
a person who has radical ideas or opinions

adj of or relating to or characteristic or causing an axial or orbital turn


Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.