liberalism

noun
lib·​er·​al·​ism | \ ˈli-b(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of liberalism

1 : the quality or state of being liberal
2a often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity
b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard (see gold standard sense 1)
c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy (see autonomy sense 2) of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class)
d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal (see liberal entry 1 sense 6b) party

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Other Words from liberalism

liberalist \ ˈli-​b(ə-​)rə-​list \ noun or adjective
liberalistic \ ˌli-​b(ə-​)rə-​ˈli-​stik \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for liberalism

Synonyms

left, leftism, left wing

Antonyms

conservatism, illiberalism, immobilism, right

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Examples of liberalism in a Sentence

liberalism had always claimed to stand for the greatest social good

Recent Examples on the Web

Living near more Starbucks stores, having a higher income, and being a woman were all associated with preferring lattes, but none of these demographic factors explained the association between lattes and liberalism. Kevin Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, "Examining liberal lattes," 22 June 2018 As well as a standard bearer for liberalism, Mr Macron emerges as an extremely adept political operator with a healthy streak of cynicism and ruthlessness, a hyper-active politician comfortable with the trappings of power. The Economist, "Emmanuel Macron, the resolutely modern philosopher king," 13 June 2018 Too often, the rise of insurgent political parties and demagogues is viewed as the source of liberalism’s problems, rather than as a symptom. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018 Not surprisingly, this liberal-democratic order holds little appeal for a Communist Party leadership that sees liberalism and democracy as a threat to its rule. Richard N. Haass, WSJ, "The Crisis in U.S.-China Relations," 19 Oct. 2018 The reality, in other words, is that Democrats can’t unilaterally conjure up an era of bipartisanship or commitment to democracy and liberalism. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump, the resistance, and the limits of normcore politics," 3 July 2018 Many are young folks who have been on the front lines of social change and protests and refuse to compromise their politics for the sake of liberalism. Clarissa Brooks, Teen Vogue, "Nonvoters Have Valid Criticisms of the United States Government," 16 Nov. 2018 Mrs May has tried to stamp that liberalism out of the party. The Economist, "A quiet revolution in Theresa May’s cabinet," 12 July 2018 There is nothing on the horizon to replace liberalism. Win Mccormack, New Republic, "Liberalism After Liberalism," 16 Feb. 2018

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

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for liberalism

see liberal entry 1

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for liberalism

The first known use of liberalism was in 1816

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More Definitions for liberalism

liberalism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of liberalism

: belief in the value of social and political change in order to achieve progress

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