• Liberal


    • US enPR: lÄ­'bÉ™rÉ™l, IPA: /ˈlɪbəɹəl/


    The adjective is from Old French liberal, from Latin liberalis ("befitting a freeman"), from liber ("free"); it is attested since the 14th century. The noun is first attested in the 1800s.

    Full definition of liberal



    1. (now rare outside of set phrases) Pertaining to those arts and sciences the study of which was considered "worthy of a free man" (as opposed to servile, vocational, mechanical); worthy, befitting a gentleman.
      • 1983, David Leslie Wagner, The Seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages
      • 1997, Gordon D. Morgan, Toward an American Sociology: Questioning the European Construct (ISBN 0275949990), page 45:Americans remain enamored with Europe's ability to produce the consequential thought for America. It was the same in nearly every liberal field. Education sought its roots in such Europeans as Froebel, Frobenius, and Rousseau. Political science tried to connect to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, and Otto von Bismarck, for instance. Economics copied the thought of Adam Smith, ...
      • 2008, Donal G. Mulcahy, The Educated Person: Toward a New Paradigm for Liberal Education (ISBN 0742561224)
    2. He had a full education studying the liberal arts.
    3. Generous, willing to give unsparingly;.
      • 2005, John Gardner, Assessment and Learning (ISBN 141291051X), page 50:When he shows improvement she is liberal with her praise and then moves on to the next set of skills to be learnt.
      • 2007, Helena Page Schrader, The English Templar (ISBN 0595432719), page 309:Queen Isabella was already being called Santa Isabella by many of her subjects because she was liberal with her alms.
      • 2010, Simon Guillebaud, More Than Conquerors: A Call to Radical Discipleship (ISBN 1854249738), page 142:Was it because the believers were so liberal with their possessions that God was so liberal with his grace?
      • 2013-06-14, Jonathan Freedland, Obama's once hip brand is now tainted, Now we are liberal with our innermost secrets, spraying them into the public ether with a generosity our forebears could not have imagined. Where we once sent love letters in a sealed envelope, or stuck photographs of our children in a family album, now such private material is despatched to servers and clouds operated by people we don't know and will never meet.
    4. He was liberal with his compliments.
    5. Ample, abundant; generous in quantity.
      • 1896, in Ice and refrigeration, volume 11, page 93:For this reason a liberal amount of piping should be used. If a liberal supply of piping is provided at first, the first cost will of course be greater, but the extra expenditure is called for but once.
      • 2009, R. Furman Kenney, Chesterville: The Village at the End of the Road (ISBN 1438960344), page 102:The result was usually that such helpers got a liberal sprinkling of mud over their clothing.
      • 2011, Marlene Perez, Dead Is Not an Option (ISBN 0547345933), page 37:Rose put a steaming cup of mint tea in front of me and spooned a liberal helping of honey into it.
    6. Add a liberal sprinkling of salt.
    7. (obsolete) Unrestrained, licentious.
      • 1599, William Shakespeare, ,Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,Confess'd the vile encounters they have hadA thousand times in secret.
    8. Widely open to new ideas, willing to depart from established opinions or conventions; permissive.
      Her parents had liberal ideas about child-rearing.
    9. (politics) Open to political or social changes and reforms associated with either classical or modern liberalism.Younger people tend to be more liberal than older people.

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    political description, following liberalism
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    open-minded, favoring social freedom; permissive
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    politically liberal
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    (plural liberals)
    1. One with liberal views, supporting individual liberty (see liberalism).
    2. (US) Someone left-wing; one with a left-wing ideology.
    3. A supporter of any of several liberal parties.
    4. (UK) One who favors individual voting rights, human and civil rights, and laissez-faire markets also called "classical liberal"; compare libertarian.


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