il·​lib·​er·​al (ˌ)i(l)-ˈli-b(ə-)rəl How to pronounce illiberal (audio)
: not liberal: such as
: not broad-minded : bigoted
illiberal thinking
: opposed to liberalism
illiberal tendencies
: not requiring the background of a liberal arts education
illiberal occupations
archaic : not generous : stingy
e archaic
: lacking a liberal education
: lacking culture and refinement
illiberally adverb
illiberalness noun

Examples of illiberal in a Sentence

an illiberal attitude toward sex an illiberal society that viewed any artistic depiction of the nude as inherently indecent
Recent Examples on the Web The decision in the Knesset could easily lead to even more illiberal measures, from the annexation of the West Bank to the suppression of critical press outlets. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 24 July 2023 Bobby was a narrow and surly young man of markedly illiberal views before becoming, many years later, someone different. Rachel Cusk, Harper's Magazine, 10 Sep. 2023 Analysts had cast Poland’s trajectory in line with the democratic erosion in Hungary and Turkey, where illiberal demagogues now preside over de facto electoral autocracies. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2023 Democrats will go into the 2024 election seeking once again to define Trump as an illiberal force bent on soiling our civic fabric, thus building on the pro-democracy message of the 2022 midterms—which pundits pooh-poohed but voters embraced. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2023 Saudi Arabia will not be the first illiberal regime to host the IGF. Justin Ling, WIRED, 11 Oct. 2023 The strategy of all-or-nothing competition with China has meant abiding the growth of other illiberal governments in the region. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 30 Sep. 2023 Even here in America, there’s loads of states which uphold illiberal laws that restrict people’s bodily autonomy and gender expression. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 10 Oct. 2023 Near the end of his speech, Healy brought up the various illiberal laws regarding LGBTQ people and other issues like bodily autonomy on the books in many U.S. states. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 10 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illiberal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin illiberalis ignoble, stingy, from Latin in- + liberalis liberal

First Known Use

1535, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of illiberal was in 1535

Dictionary Entries Near illiberal

Cite this Entry

“Illiberal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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