conservative
conservative late 14c., conservatyf, from M.Fr. conservatif, from L.L. conservativus, from L. conservatus, pp. of conservare (see CONSERVE (Cf. conserve)). 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"). Conservative as the name of a British political faction first appeared in an 1830 issue of the "Quarterly Review," in an unsigned article sometimes attributed to John Wilson Croker. It replaced TORY (Cf. Tory) (q.v.) by 1843, reflecting both a change from the pejorative name (in use for 150 years) and repudiation of some reactionary policies. Extended to similar spirits in other parties from 1845.
Strictly speaking, conservatism is not a political system, but rather a way of looking at the civil order. The conservative of Peru ... will differ greatly from those of Australia, for though they may share a preference for things established, the institutions and customs which they desire to preserve are not identical. [Russell Kirk (1918-1994)]
Phrases such as a conservative estimate make no sense etymologically. The noun is attested from 1831, originally in the British political sense.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • conservative — [kən sʉr′və tiv] adj. [OFr conservatif < LL conservativus] 1. conserving or tending to conserve; preservative 2. tending to preserve established traditions or institutions and to resist or oppose any changes in these [conservative politics,… …   English World dictionary

  • conservative — con‧ser‧va‧tive [kənˈsɜːvətɪv ǁ ɜːr ] adjective 1. careful to avoid taking risks: • He would be better taking a conservative approach to his new mortgage and opting for a fixed rate. 2. careful not to state a value or amount to be bigger or… …   Financial and business terms

  • conservative — ► ADJECTIVE 1) averse to change and holding traditional values. 2) (in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas. 3) (Conservative) relating to a Conservative Party. 4) (of an estimate)… …   English terms dictionary

  • Conservative — Con*serv a*tive, a. [Cf. F. conservatif.] 1. Having power to preserve in a safe of entire state, or from loss, waste, or injury; preservative. [1913 Webster] 2. Tending or disposed to maintain existing institutions; opposed to change or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Conservative — Con*serv a*tive, n. 1. One who, or that which, preserves from ruin, injury, innovation, or radical change; a preserver; a conserver. [1913 Webster] The Holy Spirit is the great conservative of the new life. Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster] 2. One who… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • conservative — in the meaning ‘moderate, cautious, low’, as in a conservative estimate, is one of Fowler s lost causes. He regarded it as a ridiculous ‘slipshod extension’ and rejected it outright. But it is now well established in the language and is… …   Modern English usage

  • conservative — [adj] cautious, moderate, tending to preserve the status quo bourgeois, constant, controlled, conventional, die hard, fearful, firm, fogyish*, fuddy duddy*, guarded, hard hat*, hidebound, holding to, illiberal, in a rut*, inflexible, middle of… …   New thesaurus

  • conservative — index frugal, guarded, illiberal, orthodox, protective, uncompromising Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • conservative — 1. (conservative) (3970↑, 1677↓) 1) One who espouses a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change. 2) One who believes in less government… …   Urban English dictionary

  • Conservative — The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement (also called The Coalition: Our Programme For Government) was a policy document drawn up following the 2010 general election in the United Kingdom. It formed the terms of reference governing …   Wikipedia

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