liberal

adjective
lib·​er·​al | \ ˈli-b(ə-)rəl How to pronounce liberal (audio) \

Definition of liberal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts liberal education
b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
2a : marked by generosity : openhanded a liberal giver
b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way a liberal meal
c : ample, full
3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : licentious
4 : not literal or strict : loose a liberal translation
5 : broad-minded especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

liberal

noun
lib·​er·​al | \ ˈli-b(ə-)rəl How to pronounce liberal (audio) \

Definition of liberal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is liberal: such as
a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways
b capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political party (see liberal entry 1 sense 6)
c : an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights

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Other Words from liberal

Adjective

liberally \ ˈli-​b(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce liberally (audio) \ adverb
liberalness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for liberal

Adjective

liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given. a teacher liberal with her praise generous stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift. a generous offer of help bountiful suggests lavish, unremitting giving or providing. children spoiled by bountiful presents munificent suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes. a munificent foundation grant

Examples of liberal in a Sentence

Adjective

On most issues he was thought of as a generally liberal figure, but on gun control he was live-free-or-die National Rifle Association man. — Jonathan Raban, Harper's, Aug. 1993 Many fishermen keep their holes from freezing over with liberal injections of antifreeze. Time, 28 Feb. 1974 Alexandra looked at him mournfully. "I try to be more liberal about such things than I used to be. I try to realize that we are not all made alike … " — Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913 This cost him considerable, for Dick was rather fastidious about his cigars, and wouldn't smoke the cheapest. Besides, having a liberal nature, he was generally ready to treat his companions. — Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, 1868 She is a liberal Democrat who married a conservative Republican. She has a liberal attitude toward sex. He made a very liberal donation to the museum.

Noun

a policy that is supported both by liberals and conservatives in Congress
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

News that the liberal, California billionaire has emerged as a likely buyer for the National Enquirer is the latest startling twist in the long history of that tabloid, which was founded as a muck-raking New York weekly in 1926. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Why It Makes Perfect Sense That Billionaire Ron Burkle Would Buy The Enquirer," 11 Apr. 2019 The liberal elite on Martha’s Vineyard won’t like you anymore, according to the renowned Harvard lawyer. Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Alan Dershowitz said he’s being shunned on the Vineyard. Then the mocking began," 3 July 2018 Luckily, a workplace like Vogue allows a more liberal approach towards dressing, so nobody really bats an eye at my cool, lime green Calvin Klein 205W39NYC boots, which are ultra pointy and western-inspired. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Men In Heels? I Put the Tricky Trend to the Test," 26 Feb. 2019 And as the star power behind #MeToo grew, so did the opinion that it was owned by liberal women. Allison Mcgevna, Glamour, "A Year Later, Is the #MeToo Movement Stuck in Hollywood?," 5 Oct. 2018 Many liberal white woman have an immediate reaction of defense when someone challenges their intentions. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "When Feminism Is White Supremacy in Heels," 16 Aug. 2018 The voting record of the most liberal Republican is now far to the right of that of the most conservative Democrat. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Capuano is among the most liberal House members, not leaving much room on the left for Pressley. Steve Leblanc, The Christian Science Monitor, "After New York's electoral upset, eyes turn to Massachusetts," 9 July 2018 In this most liberal of cities, a woman has no legally guaranteed right to enter a restaurant. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Eating Alone," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Surprise, surprise, the liberals in Hartford have raised his tax bid with a two-percentage-point surcharge on capital gains. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Connecticut’s Tax Roulette," 7 May 2019 Google is becoming part of America's culture war Republicans spent a fair amount of time at Tuesday's hearings establishing that a lot of liberals work at Google. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Republicans are mad at Google for search bias—will they do anything about it?," 12 Dec. 2018 Among Republicans, 64 percent of respondents said major technology companies support the views of liberals over conservatives. Nitasha Tiku, WIRED, "The Partisan Divide Around Censorship in Social Media," 28 June 2018 By contrast, the court's four most conservative justices have not been on the losing end of any 5-4 rulings — a frequent occurrence in prior years, when Kennedy would join the liberals. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court's conservatives mark return to power with major rulings, minor punts," 27 June 2018 Let’s be honest: While some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Sinclair Forced Its Local Stations to Discredit Outrage Over Family Separation," 21 June 2018 In the United States, the liberal Soros funded issues such as criminal justice, confronting the drug problem, immigration issues, and democratic governance. Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "Roseanne's other twisted tweet of the week. (The one you didn't already read about) | Trudy Rubin," 1 June 2018 While the 5-4 conservative majority read the law as it was written, the Court’s liberals would have overruled Congress. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Another Ninth Circuit Reversal," 19 Mar. 2019 Moon's conservative predecessors, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, faced harsh criticism from liberals that their hard-line stances only led North Korea to carry out more weapons tests and attacks such as two in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans. Fox News, "Skepticism rising in S. Korea ahead of 3rd summit with North," 15 Sep. 2018

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Noun

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for liberal

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free

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Statistics for liberal

Last Updated

21 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for liberal

The first known use of liberal was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for liberal

liberal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of liberal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change : relating to or supporting political liberalism
British : of or belonging to the liberal political party in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom
: not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted

liberal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of liberal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change : a person who is politically liberal
British : a member or supporter of a liberal political party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada

liberal

adjective
lib·​er·​al | \ ˈli-bə-rəl How to pronounce liberal (audio) , ˈli-brəl\

Kids Definition of liberal

1 : not stingy : generous She made a liberal donation.
2 : not strict That's a liberal interpretation of the rule.
3 : broad sense 4 I got a liberal education.

Other Words from liberal

liberally adverb

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Comments on liberal

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