in Britain in the past, a member of a party that supported progress and reform and that later became the Liberal Party Culture The Whig party was established in the late 17th century. The Whigs believed that Parliament should have more power than the king or queen, and supported the Hanoverian kings against the Stuarts. They believed in religious freedom and political reforms (= changes that improve something). The Whigs, who were mainly rich businessmen and people who owned land in the country, were in power for the first half of the 18th century. In the 19th century they changed into the Liberal Party. compare Tory Word Origin mid 17th cent. (originally referring to a 17th-century Scottish Presbyterian): probably a shortening of Scots whiggamore, the nickname of 17th-cent. Scottish rebels, from whig ‘to drive’ + mare ‘female horse or donkey’.