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 the use of bait devices raises civil liberties concerns. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Video: Police allegedly left a “bait truck” filled with Nike shoes in a black Chicago neighborhood," 7 Aug. 2018 And this has profound potential ramifications for even just the fundamental civil liberties on which democratic societies rely. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Microsoft’s president says we need to regulate facial recognition tech before ‘the year 2024 looks like the book “1984”’," 7 Nov. 2018 The suit was brought by Big Brother Watch, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a number of other civil liberties organizations from Europe and North America, as well as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "“Bulk interception” by GCHQ (and NSA) violated human rights charter, European court rules," 13 Sep. 2018 The tactics have drawn Palestinian condemnation and questions about civil liberties. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 12, 2018," 12 June 2018 Google co-founder Sergey Brin reportedly was one of the key leaders who raised caution about the threat to civil liberties by staying in the region. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "Everything you need to know about Google’s controversial China plans in advance of today’s congressional hearing," 11 Dec. 2018 The 33 metrics used fall into four broad categories: discrimination within the family, threats to physical integrity, access to resources and civil liberties. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "U.S. Women Face Continued Discrimination Challenges," 7 Dec. 2018 Immigration and civil liberties advocates are worried that once in a government database, the genetic information could be used to pursue criminal cases or penalize asylum seekers. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "DNA tests on children separated at border from family: few answers, lots of questions," 9 July 2018 But media outlets such as The Washington Post and civil liberties groups such as the ACLU have found that the process is ripe for abuse. Christopher Ingraham,, "Customs agents took $58,000 from Ohio man at airport. He's suing to get it back.," 31 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

11 Apr 2019

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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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marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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