Etymology
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activist (n.)

"one who advocates a doctrine of direct action" in any sense, 1915; from active + -ist. Originally in reference to a political movement in Sweden advocating abandonment of neutrality in World War I and active support for the Central Powers. The word was used earlier in philosophy (1907).

updated on October 21, 2016

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Definitions of activist from WordNet
1
activist (n.)
a militant reformer;
Synonyms: militant
2
activist (adj.)
advocating or engaged in activism;
Synonyms: activistic
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.