What's a noun that means "being stuck in the past", like, refusing to change, refusing to progress ('anti-progressionism' is a word I felt like making up for it, but obviously sounds wrong)?

A society ruled by corruption and __________

I already rejected "tradition" because it doesn't have negative enough connotations.

  • Specific to 'refusing to progress', when in a political conversation and one brings up 'progressive' as an ideology, I tend to refer to those who aren't under that label as 'regressive'.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 20:02
  • This is purely a Question of choice and style, so can we drop it? Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 17:59

10 Answers 10



The process or fact of an attitude, habit, or belief becoming so firmly established that change is very difficult or unlikely. Lexico - Oxford

When you are entrenched, you are not just habituated to the past. You are fixated on the righteousness of your ways, your system, your history -- stuck in the past, refusing to change or progress.

You dug your trench and expect to stay a while.

  • This carries exactly the sentiment I wanted to convey, even through just the sound of the word. In my example sentence, I will have to change the verb "ruled by" to something else though, to get across the right meaning.
    – minseong
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 16:38
  • 2
    @theonlygusti You already chose entrenchment, and it is a more incisive word indeed, but I do still think that conservatism fits the bill better.
    – Henrique
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 14:16
  • @Henrique I agree with you, and I upvoted conservatism. In my specific case, I chose to use entrenchment. If I remember SE rules correctly the accepted answer is meant to be the answer that solved the problem for the OP.
    – minseong
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 17:50

A society ruled by corruption and conservatism:

the quality of not usually liking or trusting change, especially sudden change.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • 2
    The OP specifically stated looking for a derogatory term.
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 4:01
  • 5
    @vsz Depending who you ask ....
    – chepner
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:50


  • a state or condition marked by lack of flow, movement, or development - Merriam-webster

  • a foulness or staleness, as one emanating from a standing pool of water.

  • a failure to develop, progress, or advance: periods of economic stagnation followed by bursts of growth.
  • the state or quality of being or feeling sluggish and dull - Dictionary.com

  • prolonged period of little or no growth in an economy - Investopedia

Points out more specifically at economy.

  • The problem with "stagnation" is that it usually refers to something unintentional that no one really wants. The OP was for something deliberately kept in a non-changing state.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 22:20


Luddism (noun): the beliefs or practices of the Luddites

Luddite (noun): one who is opposed to especially technological change "The Luddite argued that automation destroys jobs."

So, "A society ruled by corruption and Luddism" would be a society that opposes change, especially technological change - probably because automation and technology threatens to upset the rackets of those in charge.



Characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative.

So your sentence would become "A corrupt and reactionary society"

  • 1
    Interesting word I hadn't considered. For my personal case it's not quite right, because it feels like it would need further explanation to be grokked by the reader.
    – minseong
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 9:53



Consider inertia:

  • Wiktionary says:

    (figuratively) In a person, unwillingness to take action.

  • Lexico says:

    A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.

    ‘the bureaucratic inertia of the various tiers of government’

In your specific context, ruled by inertia sounds a bit weird to me, and I would rather use something like governed, marked, or paralysed by inertia.


It doesn't quite fit in the context of your example since it's an adjective, but a related term is:


meanging: "unwilling or unable to change because of tradition or convention."

"The Board of governors was so hidebound they wouldn't accept her wonderful new idea."


It is not a word I have heard for a long time, but when I was young the ridiculously old-fashioned were described as "antediluvian". That is, they were from before the biblical flood.

  • 2
    The OP is looking for a noun. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 16:53
  • 1
    @Rattler Actually, it turns out that antediluvian also exists as a noun, and this does seem to answer the question asked. Per the OED the noun use carries the senses of “A person living in the biblical period before the time of the Flood, esp. any of the patriarchs. Also: a very old or very old-fashioned person.” They provide nine citations dating from 1648 and 1992; many of these are used with the expected plural-noun inflection of antediluvians. Though the adjective may be more common today, its own earliest citation antedates the earliest noun citation by only two years: 1646.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 13:59

You already have accepted an answer, but for the sake of completeness I will add:


Old-fashioned or outdated.

Lexico/OED says


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘old, of long standing’): from ecclesiastical Latin antiquare ‘make old’, from antiquus (see antique).

  • 2
    true, it's an adjective not a noun. "Antiquity" is a noun, but the meaning doesn't quite fit, I think.
    – Aaron F
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 16:05
  • 1
    Aaron F This is a prime example of a noun-adjective pair with significantly different default senses. I wonder if there's a rare adjective meaning 'pertaining to antiques'. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 16:57
  • @EdwinAshworth I started replying with "Antiquarian", then deleted that because it's a noun rather than an adjective, then looked it up and: lo and behold! it's an adjective too! :-)
    – Aaron F
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 2:38
  • 1
    Yes, I'd overlooked 'antiquarian'. But it too is multi-layered; one meaning is 'relating to the study of antiquities'. Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 14:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.