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Definition of LIBERAL ARTS
: the medieval studies comprising the trivium and quadrivium
: college or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills
First Known Use of LIBERAL ARTS
College or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. In Classical antiquity, the term designated the education proper to a freeman (Latin liber, free) as opposed to a slave. In the medieval Western university, the seven liberal arts were grammar, rhetoric, and logic (the trivium) and geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy (the quadrivium). In modern colleges and universities, the liberal arts include the study of literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.