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 Doug Scott, 44, a veteran of three tours in Iraq, agreed that American troops were unlikely to change illiberal attitudes and ethnic animosities that have produced generations of conflict in Afghanistan. New York Times, "A War Is Ending. A Pennsylvania Town Exhales.," 17 Apr. 2021 Nor do its tolerant citizens feel put upon or unduly constrained by a constitutional order in which illiberal advocacy and office-holding, Holocaust defense or denial, and explicitly bigoted symbols and speech are deemed legally out of bounds. Robert Hockett, Forbes, "The Golden Rule Of A ‘Fighting Democracy’ - Don’t Tolerate Intolerance," 7 Apr. 2021 Armed with evidence of ownership and of family members’ deaths (only his grandfather survived the Holocaust), Kaiser discovers that, in an increasingly illiberal Poland, ideas of evidence, ownership, and even death have become absurdly fluid. The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 5 Apr. 2021 The one problem with illiberal democracy is that there is no such thing. Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, "Israel’s ‘Totally Crooked’ Prime Minister," 23 Mar. 2021 Without it, academia’s powerful influence in molding some of the best and brightest American minds will fall to an advancing illiberal hegemony that will continue to blow until the flame of academic freedom dies. Tristan Yang, National Review, "Columbia University’s Ultra-Woke Idea: Segregated Graduation Ceremonies," 23 Mar. 2021 Fueled by religious fanaticism and illiberal forms of feminism, by punitive laws and tabloid headlines, this bias breeds self-loathing in young men who should be learning how to nurture, not extinguish, the varieties of human connection. Tracy Quan, Los Angeles Times, "Tracy Quan: Don’t forget — the Atlanta shooting is a hate crime against sex workers," 19 Mar. 2021 Its embrace of an ignominious president is forcing a long-overdue reckoning with the movement’s embrace of white supremacy and illiberal politics. Audrey Clare Farley, The New Republic, "The Post-Trump Crack-Up of the Evangelical Community," 16 Mar. 2021 In speeches, Biden has spoken of the China challenge as part of a global clash between democratic values and illiberal authoritarianism. Washington Post, "The Biden administration’s first showdown with China," 12 Mar. 2021

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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Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Illiberal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for illiberal



English Language Learners Definition of illiberal

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

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