1. favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters: a progressive mayor.
  2. making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
  3. characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
  4. (initial capital letter) of or relating to any of the Progressive parties in politics.
  5. going forward or onward; passing successively from one member of a series to the next; proceeding step by step.
  6. noting or pertaining to a form of taxation in which the rate increases with certain increases in taxable income.
  7. of or relating to progressive education: progressive schools.
  8. Grammar. noting a verb aspect or other verb category that indicates action or state going on at a temporal point of reference.
  9. Medicine/Medical. continuously increasing in extent or severity, as a disease.


  1. a person who is progressive or who favors progress or reform, especially in political matters.
  2. (initial capital letter) a member of a Progressive party.
  3. Grammar.
    1. the progressive aspect.
    2. a verb form or construction in the progressive, as are thinking in They are thinking about it.


  1. US history a member or supporter of a Progressive Party
  2. Canadian history a member or supporter of a chiefly agrarian reform movement advocating the nationalization of railways, low tariffs, an end to party politics, and similar measures: important in the early 1920s


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a Progressive Party, Progressive movement, or Progressives


  1. of or relating to progress
  2. proceeding or progressing by steps or degrees
  3. (often capital) favouring or promoting political or social reform through government action, or even revolution, to improve the lot of the majoritya progressive policy
  4. denoting or relating to an educational system that allows flexibility in learning procedures, based on activities determined by the needs and capacities of the individual child, the aim of which is to integrate academic with social development
  5. (of a tax or tax system) graduated so that the rate increases relative to the amount taxedCompare regressive (def. 2)
  6. (esp of a disease) advancing in severity, complexity, or extent
  7. (of a dance, card game, etc) involving a regular change of partners after one figure, one game, etc
  8. denoting an aspect of verbs in some languages, including English, used to express prolonged or continuous activity as opposed to momentary or habitual activitya progressive aspect of the verb “to walk” is “is walking.”


  1. a person who advocates progress, as in education, politics, etc
    1. the progressive aspect of a verb
    2. a verb in this aspect

c.1600, “characterized by advancement” (in action, character, etc.), from progress (n.) + -ive, or else from French progressif, from past participle stem of Latin progredi. Of taxation, from 1889; of jazz, from 1947. Meaning “characterized by striving for change and innovation, avant-garde, liberal” is from 1908.

In the socio-political sense “favoring reform; radically liberal,” it emerged in various British contexts from the 1880s; in the U.S. it was active as a movement in the 1890s and a generation thereafter, the name being taken again from time to time, most recently by some more liberal Democrats and other social activists, by c.2000. The noun in the sense “one who favors social and political change in the name of progress” is first attested 1865 (originally in Christianity). Earlier in a like sense were progressionist (1849, adjective; 1884, noun), progressist (1848). Related: Progressively; progressiveness.


  1. Moving forward; advancing.
  2. Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments, as of a course of treatment.
  3. Tending to become more severe or wider in scope, as of a disease or paralysis.

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