liberal

adjective
lib·​er·​al | \ ˈli-b(ə-)rəl \

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 \

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 \ 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 main argument from some members of the House Judiciary Committee focused on the fact that a lot of Google employees are liberal, which is common among Silicon Valley tech companies. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Republican lawmakers still think Google is biased against conservatives. Google still claims that it’s not.," 11 Dec. 2018 However, one organization that was not working overtime was the hyper-liberal Women’s March. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s paper trail makes his confirmation harder but ensures he’ll be reliably conservative," 10 July 2018 Kennedy sided with the more liberal justices in helping strike down the law. Jeremy Wallace, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas hopes to test new Supreme Court with abortion case," 2 July 2018 The four liberal Supreme Court justices published a harsh dissent. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Supreme Court Upholds District Lines in Texas," 25 June 2018 The lineup of justices on each side of the case was unusual, with Roberts joining three more liberal justices and Ginsburg joining her more conservative colleagues. Jessica Gresko, courant.com, "High Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax," 21 June 2018 Many luxury designers have returned to the liberal use of logos, no doubt inspired by the raging success of streetwear brands like Supreme. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "How the Great Recession influenced a decade of design," 27 Dec. 2018 McCaskill was denied a third term by Josh Hawley, 38, Missouri’s hard-right attorney general, who called McCaskill too liberal for the state. Alan Fram, The Seattle Times, "GOP keeps Senate control for 2 more years, triumph for Trump," 7 Nov. 2018 My Republican counterparts would call me liberal in that. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why tech companies need to reinvent themselves every three to four years," 10 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The revelation has infuriated liberals who admire Soros and consider criticism of him to be anti semitic. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Facebook drops PR firm after revelation of anti-Soros campaign," 15 Nov. 2018 Indeed, the America First Committee for a brief time even enjoyed the support of some young liberals, such as Kingman Brewster and Sargent Shriver. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘Behold, America’ Review: Fighting Words," 13 Dec. 2018 While some liberals won important races in California, Colorado and Kansas, the left’s highest-profile champions disappointed on Election Day. Nicholas Riccardi, The Seattle Times, "Democrat Sinema wins Arizona Senate seat running as centrist," 13 Nov. 2018 Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images Florida voters are still casting ballots in the race for governor, but already some liberals can’t help but ask: Could Democrat Andrew Gillum be their answer to 2020? Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Gillum 2020?," 7 Nov. 2018 Why are interfaith opportunities like this more of a niche attraction for religious liberals? Gordon Mehler, WSJ, "Common Ground for a Wiccan and a Rabbi?," 1 Nov. 2018 Her Twitter account is a steady churn of support and mutual admiration for like-minded liberals, salted with signal boosts of stories about the Flint water crisis, the Israel-Palestine conflict, police brutality, immigration. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Rashida Tlaib Isn’t Waiting to Get to Congress to Help Other Women," 20 Sep. 2018 And for liberals who are understandably furious about the whole mess, there should be enough blame to go around. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Democrats’s nuclear-option gamble is coming up snake-eyes," 29 June 2018 Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent for the court's liberals, and read parts of it from the bench. Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court says crisis pregnancy centers do not have to provide women abortion information," 26 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

15 Jan 2019

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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

Liberal : 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

Liberal : 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, 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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