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 illiberal (audio) \ noun
illiberally \ (ˌ)i(l)-​ˈli-​b(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce illiberal (audio) \ adverb
illiberalness \ (ˌ)i(l)-​ˈli-​b(ə-​)rəl-​nəs How to pronounce illiberal (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 Here was another smoking gun: The paper of record devouring its own on command from a legion of woke, illiberal scolds. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Can We Stop Obsessing Over Every Personnel Decision Made by The New York Times?," 9 Feb. 2021 Such regressive tendencies have left Tarkovsky open to appropriation by the pseudo-religious illiberal ideology that has asserted itself in Putin’s Russia. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Drenching Richness of Andrei Tarkovsky," 8 Feb. 2021 The illusion of the essential fairness — warts and all — of our legal and political institutions was suddenly vulnerable to becoming an illiberal democracy like Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Monte Bute, Star Tribune, "We're all institutionalists now," 9 Jan. 2021 They have been confronted with the emergence of an illiberal authoritarian model in Hungary and Poland, and the rise of rightist political forces from Italy to Germany. New York Times, "A Shattering Blow to America’s Troubled Democratic Image," 7 Jan. 2021 The proposal is nothing more than political cowardice and illiberal cynicism. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Dangerous Historical Precedent for Ted Cruz’s Shameless Electoral College Gambit," 5 Jan. 2021 For months, President-elect Joe Biden has talked about the need to reinforce America’s traditional alliances in the West, strengthen liberal democracies around the world and confront autocrats and illiberal strongmen. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "An emerging new alliance of democracies," 18 Dec. 2020 And this obsession among journalists with pressuring platforms into limiting speech betrays their illiberal inclination. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Journalists Turn on Free Expression," 7 Dec. 2020 But as Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House, Emmanuel Macron -- himself 17 months from an election -- is being accused in France of charting an increasingly illiberal course. CNN, "Investors give thanks, but Americans are going hungry," 25 Nov. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of illiberal was in 1535

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Statistics for illiberal

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Illiberal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of illiberal

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

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