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

Antonyms

conservatism, 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

There is nothing on the horizon to replace liberalism. Win Mccormack, New Republic, "Liberalism After Liberalism," 16 Feb. 2018 Perhaps, in another quarter century, the current panic over liberalism in peril will look overblown. Cathy Young, BostonGlobe.com, "Is liberal democracy failing? No, it’s a victim of its own success," 8 July 2018 Even more preposterous is the claim by some academics that economic liberalism in the 1980s spawned the socialism that has destroyed the country. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Venezuela’s Long Road to Hell," 10 June 2018 McConnell tried eating Saturday at the Bristol in the Highlands, a bastion of liberalism in Louisville, and was chased to his car by people chanting at him. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Eat at home, McConnell, until you're ready to listen to all the people," 10 July 2018 But the unrest in New York City is a landmark moment: For all its cultural liberalism, the city is usually a politically rigid place — a tough arena for newcomers, given the party machines and election laws that discourage competition. Alexander Burns, New York Times, "4 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Primary Elections," 27 June 2018 Foreign policy was Krauthammer’s dominant passion, and the struggle against Soviet Communism drew him away from his youthful liberalism. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Charles Krauthammer was a crucial New Republic voice for nearly a quarter century. RIP.," 22 June 2018 Despite his liberalism on some issues, the current pope has been unwavering on the subject. Ariana Eunjung Cha, chicagotribune.com, "40 years after 1st 'test tube' baby, science has produced 7 million babies - and raised moral questions," 27 Apr. 2018 More than just numbers, those in the middle often exhibit strong traits of empathy, diplomacy, and liberalism. Katie Kosma, Longreads, "Losing the Middle Ground," 13 July 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

10 Oct 2018

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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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