- the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc.: social reform; spelling reform.
- an instance of this.
- the amendment of conduct, belief, etc.
verb (used with object)
- to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc.
- to cause (a person) to abandon wrong or evil ways of life or conduct.
- to put an end to (abuses, disorders, etc.).
- Chemistry. to subject to the process of reforming, as in refining petroleum.
verb (used without object)
- to abandon evil conduct or error: The drunkard promised to reform.
- (initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of Reform Jews or Reform Judaism: a Reform rabbi.
- (tr) to improve (an existing institution, law, practice, etc) by alteration or correction of abuses
- to give up or cause to give up a reprehensible habit or immoral way of life
- chem to change the molecular structure of (a hydrocarbon) to make it suitable for use as petrol by heat, pressure, and the action of catalysts
- an improvement or change for the better, esp as a result of correction of legal or political abuses or malpractices
- a principle, campaign, or measure aimed at achieving such change
- improvement of morals or behaviour, esp by giving up some vice
c.1300, “to convert into another and better form,” from Old French reformer “rebuild, reconstruct, recreate” (12c.), from Latin reformare “to form again, change, transform, alter,” from re- “again” (see re-) + formare “to form” (see form (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1580s.
Meaning “to bring (a person) away from an evil course of life” is recorded from early 15c.; of governments, institutions, etc., from early 15c. Related: Reformed; reforming. Reformed churches (1580s) usually are Calvinist as opposed to Lutheran. Reformed Judaism (1843) is a movement initiated in Germany by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Reform school is attested from 1859.
“any proceeding which brings back a better order of things,” 1660s, from reform (v.) and in some uses from French réforme. As a branch of Judaism from 1843.