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

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 case was closely watched at the state and federal level by civil liberty advocates. Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2022 And Mike Lee, in particular, has a bipartisan history on civil liberty issues. Joel Mathis, The Week, 16 Feb. 2022 Though the difference may seem academic, civil liberty groups were concerned the case could vastly expand police powers because of the breadth of misdemeanor charges. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 23 June 2021 Biden’s team, wary of a fight over civil liberty and privacy, is developing measures to harden such systems without adding large-scale surveillance capabilities to the powers of the federal government. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 12 Mar. 2021 The Supreme Court grappled Wednesday with whether an officer pursuing a misdemeanor suspect can follow that person into their home without a warrant in a case civil liberty groups say could vastly expand police powers. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 24 Feb. 2021 Celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and civil liberty groups from around the country have long argued that prosecuting Assange constitutes an assault on free speech and a grave threat to the rights of journalists. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, 20 Jan. 2021 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, 26 Oct. 2020 Lawmakers, however, raised questions about privacy and civil liberty concerns. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, 22 Sep. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of civil liberty

1614, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About civil liberty

Time Traveler for civil liberty

Time Traveler

The first known use of civil liberty was in 1614

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near civil liberty

civil law

civil liberty

civil list

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for civil liberty

Cite this Entry

“Civil liberty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for civil liberty

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!