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 The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled Fairfax County’s mass collection of vehicle license plate numbers does not violate legal privacy protections in a decision criticized by civil liberty advocates. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "Mass data collection of license plate numbers upheld by Virginia Supreme Court," 26 Oct. 2020 Lawmakers, however, raised questions about privacy and civil liberty concerns. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "North Carolina's transportation funding could be short for another 30 years: Study," 22 Sep. 2020 For many law enforcement agencies, enforcing face mask rules risks tangling with potentially controversial civil liberty issues. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, "Many face mask mandates go unenforced as police feel political, economic pressure," 16 Sep. 2020 The civil liberties implications are worrying, but the rapid roll-out of this technology is a reminder that private business already has access to much of this data, and may be an opportunity to think hard about how it should be used. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "The US can bring people back to work safely if it follows these steps," 25 Mar. 2020 An arbitrary loss of any person’s civil liberties is a loss for all of us. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: Let’s see how new gun law works before pushing for more," 28 Nov. 2019 But the case of Ellis and more recently, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill , born Robert Williams, is fueling calls among civil liberty groups and reform-minded district attorneys to make the system more transparent. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Criminal justice reform turns to list of problem officers," 1 Sep. 2019 Yet the mayor said his role in containing the tumult runs up against the state’s expansive civil liberties., "Will Proud Boys, antifa showdown mark a tipping point for Portland?," 10 Aug. 2019 The Chinese government’s plan to impose security laws on Hong Kong that could curtail the city’s civil liberties has left the freewheeling and decentralized opposition movement seeking not only a next move but a new vision. Vivian Wang,, "‘Facing the darkest hour’: Hong Kong’s protest movement in crisis," 30 May 2020

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

14 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civil liberty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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

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