AskDefine | Define subversive

Dictionary Definition

subversive adj : in opposition to a civil authority or government [syn: insurgent, seditious] n : a radical supporter of political or social revolution [syn: revolutionist, revolutionary, subverter]

User Contributed Dictionary



See to subvert.


  1. in opposition to a civil authority or government



in opposition to a civil authority or government


a radical supporter of political or social revolution

Extensive Definition

otheruses Subversion Subversion refers to an attempt to overthrow structures of authority, including the state. It is an overturning or uprooting. The word is present in all languages of Latin origin, originally applying to such diverse events as the military defeat of a city.
As early as the 14th century, it was being used in the English language with reference to laws, and in the 15th century came to be used with respect to the realm. The term has taken over from ‘sedition’ as the name for illicit rebellion, though the connotations of the two words are rather different, sedition suggesting overt attacks on institutions, subversion something much more surreptitious, such as eroding the basis of belief in the status quo or setting people against each other.
Subversive activity is the lending of aid, comfort, and moral support to individuals, groups, or organizations that advocate the overthrow of incumbent governments by force and violence. All willful acts that are intended to be detrimental to the best interests of the government and that do not fall into the categories of treason, sedition, sabotage, or espionage are placed in the category of subversive activity.
Recent writers, in the post-modern and post-structuralist traditions (including, particularly, feminist writers) have prescribed a very broad form of subversion. It is not, directly, the governing realm which should be subverted in their view, but the predominant cultural forces, such as patriarchy, individualism, and scientific rationalism. This broadening of the target of subversion owes much to the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, who stressed that communist revolution required the erosion of the particular form of ‘cultural hegemony’ in any society.
A UK-based council communist group in the 1990s was called Subversion.

Modern uses

At the turn of the millennium, anger at the invasion of public space by advertisers and corporate interests prompted a social movement to subvert corporate advertising, especially the ubiquitous corporate logos that inundate public space. "Subvertising" involves subtly changing posters and advertisements to alter the intended meaning of corporate slogans and logos, usually in an attempt to highlight the company's unethical practices. In this context, the authority figure subverted has ceased to be the state and has become the all-powerful corporation.
subversive in Danish: Undergravende virksomhed
subversive in German: Subversion
subversive in Spanish: Subversión
subversive in Persian: براندازی
subversive in French: Subversion (renversement des valeurs)
subversive in Galician: Subversión
subversive in Korean: 체제 전복
subversive in Japanese: 破壊
subversive in Portuguese: Subversão
subversive in Swedish: Subversion (politik)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bolshevik, Bolshevist, Bolshie, Carbonarist, Carbonaro, Castroist, Castroite, Charley, Communist, Cong, Fenian, Guevarist, Jacobin, Leninist, Maoist, Marxist, Mau-Mau, Puritan, Red, Red Republican, Roundhead, Sinn Feiner, Trojan horse, Trotskyist, Trotskyite, VC, Vietcong, Wobbly, Yankee, Yankee Doodle, agitator, altered, anarch, anarchist, anarchistic, anarcho-syndicalist, baneful, better, bonnet rouge, brawler, breakaway, calamitous, cataclysmal, cataclysmic, catastrophic, changeable, changed, collaborationist, collaborator, consuming, consumptive, converted, criminal syndicalist, crypto, deadly, defector, degenerate, demolishing, demolitionary, depredatory, desolating, destroying, destructive, devastating, deviant, disastrous, dissident, divergent, doomful, extreme, extreme left-winger, extremist, extremistic, factious, fatal, fateful, fellow traveler, fifth column, fifth columnist, fraternizer, fratricidal, frondeur, improved, insubordinate, insurgent, insurrectionary, insurrectionist, insurrecto, internecine, left-wing extremist, lunatic fringe, malcontent, maverick, metamorphosed, metastasized, mild radical, mildly radical, modified, mutant, mutineer, mutineering, mutinous, nihilist, nihilistic, nonconformist, parlor Bolshevik, parlor pink, pink, pinko, qualified, quisling, radical, ravaging, rebel, rebellious, rebuilt, red, reformed, renewed, revived, revolter, revolutional, revolutionary, revolutionary junta, revolutioner, revolutionist, revolutionizer, rioter, riotous, ruining, ruinous, saboteur, sans-culotte, sans-culottist, security risk, seditionary, seditious, self-destructive, subversionary, suicidal, syndicalist, terrorist, traitor, traitorous, transformed, translated, transmuted, treacherous, treasonable, treasonous, turbulent, ultra, ultraconservative, ultraist, ultraistic, underground, unmitigated, vandalic, vandalish, vandalistic, wasteful, wasting, withering, worse, yippie
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1