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

Readiness to curtail civil liberties of opponents including media. David Hawpe, The Courier-Journal, "Book review: There's more political warfare and polarization in Trump's future," 4 June 2018 And there are real dangers to civil liberties in the approach that the judge said Mueller is using. NBC News, "Meet the Press -May 6, 2018," 6 May 2018 Blum’s book is especially valuable in rebutting the dwindling few who still believe the Rosenberg case was about the government seeking to curb the civil liberties of dissenters. Ronald Radosh, New York Times, "In This True-Life Spy Story, It’s America vs. Russia, the Early Years," 10 Apr. 2018 But, the country has come under fire for restricting civil liberties. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, "What time will Trump and Kim meet in Singapore?," 6 June 2018 To most people, both the surveillance issue and the false statements issue exist on the same axis of civil liberties versus law and order. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "James Comey isn’t the hero we deserve. But he’s the hero we need," 18 Apr. 2018 In an instant, one extreme side would scream a violation of civil liberties. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "I’m a lifelong ‘gun guy,’ but the Florida shooting has changed my mind," 22 Feb. 2018 But the program has come under fire from civil liberties groups and even some Amazon investors over concerns that the technology could be used for mass surveillance. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "The Orlando Police Department Is Ending Its Test of Amazon Facial Recognition Tech—For Now," 26 June 2018 Border Patrol agents eventually released everyone who had legal status, but the practice has outraged civil liberties groups. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Why it’s legal for Border Patrol to have checkpoints in the US," 22 June 2018

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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Statistics for civil liberty

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for civil liberty

The first known use of civil liberty was in 1614

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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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