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

Definition of illiberal

: not liberal: such as

a archaic

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

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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

Their fathers, too, have echoed each other’s illiberal agendas. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump and Netanyahu are playing the same game," 10 Jan. 2018 The consensus is that American politics was far more illiberal in our past than in our present. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The political tribalism of Andrew Sullivan," 11 Dec. 2018 The center-left, like its counterparts elsewhere in Europe, has turned into a political bystander, while the country may lurch toward the sort of illiberal nationalism seen further east. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Italy’s thwarted populists may have their revenge on Europe," 29 May 2018 With the exception of Poland, where elections and European Union pressure have slowed illiberal forces, the news from countries retreating from democracy is mostly bad. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Democracy Could Bounce Back in 2019," 31 Dec. 2018 Though Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is an illiberal authoritarian, Mercedes Benz announced an investment of €1bn in the country two years ago and plans to make 330,000 cars yearly by 2020. The Economist, "Central Europe’s Goldilocks economies," 5 July 2018 There was far less international media coverage of what was happening in Bulgarian domestic politics, where recent months saw a growing illiberal consensus and multiple protests against corruption and welfare cuts. Julia Rone, Washington Post, "Bulgaria’s turn to lead the Council of the European Union just ended. How did things go?," 5 July 2018 The peril is that this form of divisive politics will seep deeper into the tapestry of the illiberal anti-immigrant pan-European movement. Amro Ali, Time, "Denmark’s “Ghetto” Policies Are an Ominous Sign That Liberal Europe Is Starting to Unravel at the Seams," 3 July 2018 But there is no doubt that the system of borders that exists in the international state system today is in a very fundamental sense profoundly illiberal. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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The first known use of illiberal was in 1535

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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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What made you want to look up illiberal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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