il·​lib·​er·​al | \ (ˌ)i(l)-ˈli-b(ə-)rəl How to pronounce illiberal (audio) \

Definition of illiberal

: not liberal: such as
a : not broad-minded : bigoted illiberal thinking
b : opposed to liberalism illiberal tendencies
c : not requiring the background of a liberal arts education illiberal occupations
d archaic : not generous : stingy
e archaic
(1) : lacking a liberal education
(2) : lacking culture and refinement

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Other Words from illiberal

illiberality \ (ˌ)i(l)-​ˌli-​bə-​ˈra-​lə-​tē How to pronounce illiberality (audio) \ noun
illiberally \ (ˌ)i(l)-​ˈli-​b(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce illiberally (audio) \ adverb
illiberalness \ (ˌ)i(l)-​ˈli-​b(ə-​)rəl-​nəs How to pronounce illiberalness (audio) \ 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 Firey spends time in his essay worried about the gathering strength in illiberal states like North Korea under Trump’s presidency. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "What Was Free about Our Trade Relationship with China before Trump?," 30 Aug. 2019 Warnings of a crisis of liberalism have become commonplace, as it is assailed by an illiberal right on the one side and a socialist left on the other. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "The World The Economist Made," 17 Dec. 2019 Even some of those critical of the Brotherhood -- who regard it as illiberal, authoritarian or suspiciously secretive -- say it shouldn’t be banned. Caroline Alexander | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Who Are the Muslim Brotherhood? Are They Terrorists?," 16 May 2019 Politics as practiced on Facebook and Twitter is illiterate, driven by hatred, illiberal, authoritarian, and utterly democratic. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "A Host of Squalid Oligarchs," 3 Oct. 2019 Singapore, put crudely, is an illiberal democracy; Hong Kong a liberal autocracy. The Economist, "A tale of two cities Singapore stands to gain from Hong Kong’s troubles," 10 Oct. 2019 Well, many Central European governments are criticized for their illiberal turns by cozying up to Russia. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Why Isn’t Macron an Illiberal Pinup?," 26 Sep. 2019 The sense that Russia is growing increasingly illiberal is helping drive a surge of emigration by Jews there to Israel in the past four years. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "Russian Jews are increasingly moving to Israel," 18 Sep. 2019 Those chants are still inappropriate and illiberal. Daniel W. Drezner, Twin Cities, "Daniel Drezner: Why ‘lock him up’ is almost as bad as ‘lock her up’," 6 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illiberal.' 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 illiberal

1535, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for illiberal

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

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Time Traveler for illiberal

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The first known use of illiberal was in 1535

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Statistics for illiberal

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illiberal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce illiberal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illiberal

formal : not allowing people to think and act as they choose : not liberal

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