lib·​er·​al·​ism ˈli-b(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce liberalism (audio)
: the quality or state of being liberal
often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity
: 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)
: 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)
capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal (see liberal entry 1 sense 6b) party
liberalist noun or adjective
liberalistic adjective

Examples of liberalism in a Sentence

liberalism had always claimed to stand for the greatest social good
Recent Examples on the Web But to live in California also is to live in a complacent bubble of liberalism. Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times, 6 June 2024 What would an action program embracing individualistic liberalism look like? George Liebmann, Baltimore Sun, 26 Apr. 2024 Most people define liberalism by its core institutions, such as individual rights, the rule of law, separation of powers, free elections, and open markets. Alexandre Lefebvre, Foreign Affairs, 23 Apr. 2024 And Republicans, who have long criticized universities as fortresses of liberalism and leftism, now have allies among the many congressional Democrats who remain supportive of Israel, as well as many of the universities’ own donors, administrators and trustees. Charles Homans Gabra Zackman Anna Diamond Quinton Kamara, New York Times, 29 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for liberalism 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'liberalism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see liberal entry 1

First Known Use

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of liberalism was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near liberalism

Cite this Entry

“Liberalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


lib·​er·​al·​ism ˈlib(-ə)-rə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce liberalism (audio)
: a political belief stressing progress, the essential goodness of humankind, and individual freedom

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