civil liberty


Definition of civil liberty

: freedom from arbitrary governmental interference (as with the right of free speech) specifically by denial of governmental power and in the U.S. especially as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights usually used in plural

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Other Words from civil liberty

civil libertarian noun or adjective

Examples of civil liberty in a Sentence

Freedom of speech is a civil liberty.
Recent Examples on the Web Since taking office, Mr. Duterte has led a crackdown on civil liberties and authorized the police to carry out a war on drugs that has left thousands of people dead. Jason Gutierrez, New York Times, "Nene Pimentel, 85, Dies; Filipino Politician Stood Up to Marcos," 24 Oct. 2019 Secular conservatives tried to push back on civil liberties. Christian Caryl, Twin Cities, "Christian Caryl: The democratic success story that no one is talking about," 16 Oct. 2019 Freedom of speech and civil liberties in Hong Kong are not controversial. Los Angeles Times, "A Cantopop star publicly supported Hong Kong protesters. So Beijing disappeared his music," 23 Sep. 2019 Matt Cagle, the Northern California branch’s technology and civil liberties attorney, said in a statement. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, "California could become the largest state to ban facial recognition in body cameras," 11 Sep. 2019 In a blog post, Jacob Snow, technology and civil liberties attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, said that the false matches were made against a mugshot database. James Rogers, Fox News, "Amazon face recognition wrongly tagged lawmakers as police suspects, fueling racial bias concerns," 27 July 2018 In 2008, he was given an honorary doctorate of law from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School for his contributions to civil liberties and the public interest, according to biographical information listed on his blog. Lisa Donovan,, "The Spin: There’s definitely a lingering hangover in the Johnson case," 4 Dec. 2019 On Sunday, demonstrators returned in force, packing city streets to denounce Xi’s government, rail against police brutality and reiterate demands for greater civil liberties, including universal suffrage., "HONG KONG — Hundreds of thousands of protesters, basking in a recent election victory by Hong Kong’s prodemocracy camp, poured onto the city’s streets Sunday in one of the largest marches in weeks to pressure the government to meet demands for greater civil liberties.," 9 Dec. 2019 On Sunday, demonstrators returned in force, packing city streets to denounce Xi’s government, rail against police brutality and reiterate demands for greater civil liberties, including universal suffrage. Javier C. Hernández And Elaine Yu,, "Massive show of support in Hong Kong for pro-democracy protesters," 8 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civil liberty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of civil liberty

1614, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for civil liberty

Time Traveler

The first known use of civil liberty was in 1614

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Statistics for civil liberty

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civil liberty.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for civil liberty

civil liberty


English Language Learners Definition of civil liberty

: the right of people to do or say things that are not illegal without being stopped or interrupted by the government

civil liberty


Legal Definition of civil liberty

: freedom from arbitrary interference in one's pursuits (as in expressing thoughts, practicing a religion, or pursuing a living) by individuals or especially by the government and especially as constitutionally guaranteed usually used in pl. — see also civil right

Comments on civil liberty

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a feeling of well-being or elation

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