Word of the Day Archive
Sunday February 10, 2013
1. an extreme radical, especially in politics.
2. (in the French Revolution) a member of a radical society or club of revolutionaries that promoted the Reign of Terror and other extreme measures, active chiefly from 1789 to 1794: so called from the Dominican convent in Paris, where they originally met.
3. a Dominican friar.
4. (lowercase) one of a fancy breed of domestic pigeons having neck feathers that hang over the head like a hood.
Yet the politics of the Romantic-era novel during these decades finally cannot be reduced to the formula of Jacobin vs. anti-Jacobin, or radical vs. conservative.
-- Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Charlotte Sussman, Recognizing the Romantic Novel
We formerly gave the Editor of The Times a definition of a true Jacobin, as one “who had seen the evening star set over a poor man's cottage, and connected it with the hope of human happiness.”
-- Diane Ravitch, The English Reader
This French word has a radical history worthy of its definition. The Jacobins are an order of Dominican friars that have practiced in Paris since the 1300s. During the French Revolution, Parisian radicals quartered themselves in the Jacobin convent of Saint Jacques in 1789, and now Jacobin can refer to revolutionaries or extremists of any kind.