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adjective lib·er·al \ˈli-b(ə-)rəl\

Simple Definition of liberal

  • : believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change : relating to or supporting political liberalism

  • Liberal : of or belonging to the liberal political party in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom

  • : not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of liberal

  1. 1 a :  of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education> b archaic :  of or befitting a man of free birth

  2. 2 a :  marked by generosity :  openhanded <a liberal giver> b :  given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal> c :  ample, full

  3. 3 obsolete :  lacking moral restraint :  licentious

  4. 4 :  not literal or strict :  loose <a liberal translation>

  5. 5 :  broad-minded; especially :  not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms

  6. 6 a :  of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b capitalized :  of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially :  of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

liberally play \-b(ə-)rə-lē\ adverb
liberalness noun

Examples of liberal in a sentence

  1. Many fishermen keep their holes from freezing over with liberal injections of antifreeze. —Time, 28 Feb. 1974

  2. Alexandra looked at him mournfully. “I try to be more liberal about such things than I used to be. I try to realize that we are not all made alike …” —Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913

  3. This cost him considerable, for Dick was rather fastidious about his cigars, and wouldn't smoke the cheapest. Besides, having a liberal nature, he was generally ready to treat his companions. —Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, 1868

  4. On most issues he was thought of as a generally liberal figure, but on gun control he was live-free-or-die National Rifle Association man. —Jonathan Raban, Harper's, Aug. 1993

  5. She is a liberal Democrat who married a conservative Republican.

  6. She has a liberal attitude toward sex.

  7. He made a very liberal donation to the museum.

Origin of liberal

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of liberal

liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given <a teacher liberal with her praise>. generous stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift <a generous offer of help>. bountiful suggests lavish, unremitting giving or providing <children spoiled by bountiful presents>. munificent suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes <a munificent foundation grant>.



noun lib·er·al \ˈli-b(ə-)rəl\

Simple Definition of liberal

  • : a person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change : a person who is politically liberal

  • Liberal : a member or supporter of a liberal political party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of liberal

  1. :  a person who is liberal: as a :  one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways b capitalized :  a member or supporter of a liberal political party (see 1liberal) c :  an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights

Examples of liberal in a sentence

  1. a policy that is supported both by liberals and conservatives in Congress

Origin of liberal

(see 1liberal)

First Known Use: 1820

LIBERAL Defined for Kids


adjective lib·er·al \ˈli-bə-rəl, ˈli-brəl\

Definition of liberal for Students

  1. 1 :  not stingy :  generous <She made a liberal donation.>

  2. 2 :  not strict <That's a liberal interpretation of the rule.>

  3. 3 :  broad 4 <I got a liberal education.>

liberally adverb

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to dishevel or rumple

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