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

But Hussain’s work also came under attack by defense attorneys and civil liberties groups as entrapment. Tom Hays, The Seattle Times, "Limo company owner was a controversial FBI informant," 9 Oct. 2018 That reflected an alliance between, on the one hand, religious groups who were protecting their interests and also their beliefs, and civil liberties groups that saw this as protecting certain vulnerable groups, namely religious minorities. Christopher Shea, Vox, "Why Jeff Sessions thinks Christians are under siege in America," 1 Aug. 2018 In May, civil liberties groups criticized Amazon for marketing facial technology, called Rekognition, to police departments. New York Times, "Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms," 9 July 2018 But the advent of the program has provoked alarm among civil liberties groups and privacy advocates. Rick Rojas,, "Newark opens surveillance videos to public on Internet," 9 June 2018 In the ongoing Law & Order franchise, detectives often trample civil liberties in pursuit of New York City’s most vile criminals. Mychal Denzel Smith, The New Republic, "How America became over-policed," 5 June 2018 Over the ensuing three years, Malaysian opposition politicians and human rights groups complained about an erosion of civil liberties in the country. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Fallen Leader, Is Arrested and Charged in 1MDB Scandal," 4 July 2018 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

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

21 Nov 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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a nest or breeding place

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