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

The House had called for eliminating the tax credit, long targeted as unnecessary by conservative and liberal policy groups in Columbus. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com, "Restoration of business-tax cut among changes proposed in Ohio Senate’s budget plan," 11 June 2019 But his opposition to those nominees has won him the gratitude of liberal and civil rights groups that are at the front lines of the battle over judicial appointments. Ana Radelat, courant.com, "Sen. Richard Blumenthal finds special niche on Judiciary Committee," 10 June 2019 The last thing Biden needed was to walk into a den of super-liberal lions. Willie Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Elizabeth Warren can win the nomination. California is key," 8 June 2019 Slovakia elected its first female president, a liberal and pro-European anticorruption candidate whose rise is seen as a rebuke of the conservative nationalism remaking its larger neighbors. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "In Europe’s Nationalist Hotbed, Slovakia Takes a Liberal Turn," 31 Mar. 2019 Omar replaced Democrat Keith Ellison, who ran for state attorney general, in representing a Minneapolis-area district that is heavily liberal and includes thousands of Somali-Americans as well as significant Jewish populations. Amy Forliti, The Seattle Times, "Twitter dustup, apology not firsts for Minnesota Rep. Omar," 12 Feb. 2019 Liberals tend to rely on a range of liberal and mainstream news sources. Ezra Klein, Vox, "A new theory for why Republicans and Democrats see the world differently," 18 Dec. 2018 That has galvanized liberal and conservative advocacy groups, who began mobilizing even before the nomination was announced and expect to spend tens of millions through the summer and into the fall. New York Times, "Senate Democrats Come Out Swinging in Long-Shot Fight to Block Kavanaugh," 10 July 2018 The funny father loves to poke fun at the liberal community, which includes his son-in-law Ryan (Jordan Masterson), who Mike often butts heads with. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'Last Man Standing' Star Tim Allen Admits He Likes to 'Poke Fun at Very Brittle Liberals'," 3 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Barack Obama resisted calls from liberals to launch a widespread investigation into the George W. Bush administration’s post-Sept. Elana Schor, BostonGlobe.com, "Lock him up? Democrats weigh what to do about Trump’s deeds after he leaves office," 13 June 2019 The survey found just three issues are viewed as morally acceptable by a majority of conservatives but less than half of liberals: the death penalty, buying and wearing clothes made of animal fur, and medical testing on animals. Marie Patino, Fortune, "Abortion Divides Americans More Than Any Other Issue," 5 June 2019 Fresno visit Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a breakout star in the presidential race, but his support emanates largely from coastal white liberals. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: BART fare increase may not be a done deal," 4 June 2019 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

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

18 Jun 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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