I read that malcontent, a noun in grammatical sense, is "one who is in active opposition to an established order or government," but is there a word to describe "one who is in passive opposition to an established order or government?"

A bit of searching last turned to disillusioned, an adjective — "She became more and more disillusioned with politics" —, but I'm looking for a noun and disillusioned is not, whereas malcontent is.

Thus, my question is, is there a word to describe "one who is in passive opposition to an established order or government?"

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    It's not one word, but how about "half the population"! ;-) But, seriously, in a bi- or tri-partite democratic system, aren't all hose who voted for the parties not in power "in passive opposition to [the] government"? Active opposition is obvious, but what do you mean by passive opposition? – TrevorD Sep 6 '13 at 14:07
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    A "miliband"? But seriously, although I'm perfectly familiar with the word malcontent, I've never actually spoken it and probably seen it written down once a year or less. In any political arena words like rebel, opponent, critic, even enemy are used. I'm not even sure about that definition that malcontents are in active opposition. If I read "Tory malcontents will not be appeased by this new bill" I would think of malcontents as being unhappy generally with the way things are going but grumbling and muttering rather than actively opposing. – user24964 Sep 6 '13 at 14:21

I think you want

dissident noun a person who strongly disagrees with and criticizes their government, especially in a country where this kind of action is dangerous

Oxford Advanced American dictionary

dis·si·dent n. One who disagrees; a dissenter.


  • I thought of that too but you can be an agressive dissident or dissidents may become aggressive. – user49727 Sep 6 '13 at 14:41
  • If a movie title was The Dissident, I would expect to see a lot of hostility. Not some guy marching with a sign, right? – RyeɃreḁd Sep 6 '13 at 14:54
  • I am not saying you are wrong. Just saying what I think when I hear the word. I might be wrong. Certainly like it better than satyagrahi - which isn't an english word. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 6 '13 at 15:04
  • One can certainly express dissent using non-violent means. The word dissident has often been used to describe scientists, philosophers and free-thinkers who were against the Soviet regime, for example. – ghoppe Sep 6 '13 at 18:14
  • Relevant wikipedia link: List of Chinese Dissidents I see very few violent dissidents on that list… – ghoppe Sep 6 '13 at 18:19

Consider satyagrahi in the sense of passive but 'constructive' opposition

an exponent of nonviolent resistance, esp as a form of political protest

although Gandhi did not strictly coin the term satyagraha to mean passive resistance, it has come to mean nonviolent resistance in a broad context, and he was himself given to using the terms interchangeably.

A close term that would fit your context I think is meliorist.

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    Is that really english language? – RyeɃreḁd Sep 6 '13 at 14:46
  • Satyagrahi or meliorist? they both are very much so. – user49727 Sep 6 '13 at 15:06
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    @RyeBread: Satyagrahi and Satyagraha are present in many standard dictionaries. They are of Sanskrit origin, but they are acceptable English words. The only irony is that these words owe their presence in the dictionary to British imperialism! – Bravo Sep 6 '13 at 15:07
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    I feel that using Sanskrit words is a slippery slope. I am a French speaker and I can often think of a word that would work and often I could prove it out or something similar in an English dictionary. The fact is you would be hard pressed to find it used unless it is an article about Gandhi. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 6 '13 at 15:12
  • But it is an English word – user49727 Sep 6 '13 at 15:34

This is a conscientious objector, in many instamces


I would say hippie, non-conformist, protestor, or objector.


Anarchist may be the word you are looking for.

  • An anarchist is in opposition to any established order or government, not just a particular one. – p.s.w.g Sep 6 '13 at 20:13
  • the question asks the word for a person who is in opposition to any established order or goverment. So, Anarchist is the same as explained by you. – Sweet72 Sep 7 '13 at 12:23

What about an armchair activist? It's somewhat derogatory but it may fit.

  • An armchair activist isn't passive. Many bloggers are armchair activists, and are in fact malcontents. That being said, I think the problem may be with the question. – MetaEd Sep 9 '13 at 20:17

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