liberty

noun
lib·​er·​ty | \ ˈli-bər-tē How to pronounce liberty (audio) \
plural liberties

Definition of liberty

1 : the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic (see despot sense 1) control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice
2a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege
b : permission especially to go freely within specified limits was given the liberty of the house
3 : an action going beyond normal limits: such as
a : a breach of etiquette or propriety : familiarity took undue liberties with a stranger
b : risk, chance took foolish liberties with his health
c : a violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice took liberties in the way he played the game
d : a distortion of fact The movie takes many liberties with the actual events.
4 : a short authorized absence from naval duty usually for less than 48 hours
at liberty
1 : free
2 : at leisure : unoccupied

Choose the Right Synonym for liberty

freedom, liberty, license mean the power or condition of acting without compulsion. freedom has a broad range of application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated. freedom of the press liberty suggests release from former restraint or compulsion. the released prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty license implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom. freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license

Examples of liberty in a Sentence

a nation that values liberty and democracy soldiers willing to die in defense of liberty They gave him the liberty to handle the problem himself. hard-won liberties such as freedom of the press
Recent Examples on the Web Olexander Scherba, Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria, said on Twitter that Paul’s move amounted to a failure to defend Ukraine’s liberty. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 Republicans in Congress are gleefully destroying basic human liberty; babies are literally going hungry due to a formula shortage. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 12 May 2022 China has already crushed political dissent, a free press and an independent judiciary in Hong Kong, and its latest target is religious liberty. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 May 2022 Propaganda about liberty and reason prevails on the Internet while propaganda about patriotism and Communism prevails in the textbooks. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 Personal liberty is something any company should eagerly get behind. Liz Plank, Fortune, 9 May 2022 California, the Golden State of both sunshine and liberty, has of course doubled down on access to reproductive health, also something Stephanie wasn’t yet thinking about. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 The group had to be especially covert that night, Shedd testified, because the admiral had issued a no-liberty policy for that port visit, prohibiting sailors from leaving the ship unless on official business. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 May 2022 Most cable and fiber plans hike their prices after the first two years, or at least maintain the liberty to do so. Sascha Segan, PCMAG, 4 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'liberty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of liberty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for liberty

Middle English, from Anglo-French liberté, from Latin libertat-, libertas, from liber free — more at liberal

Learn More About liberty

Time Traveler for liberty

Time Traveler

The first known use of liberty was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near liberty

libertinism

liberty

Liberty

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for liberty

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Liberty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberty. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for liberty

liberty

noun
lib·​er·​ty | \ ˈli-bər-tē How to pronounce liberty (audio) \
plural liberties

Kids Definition of liberty

1 : the state of being free : freedom
2 : freedom to do as desired Give the child some liberty.
3 : the state of not being busy : leisure
4 : a political right Don't take your liberties for granted.
5 : an action that is too free The movie takes liberties with the truth.
at liberty
: able to act or speak freely I'm not at liberty to discuss the project.

liberty

noun
lib·​er·​ty
plural liberties

Legal Definition of liberty

1a : freedom from external (as governmental) restraint, compulsion, or interference in engaging in the pursuits or conduct of one's choice to the extent that they are lawful and not harmful to others
b : enjoyment of the rights enjoyed by others in a society free of arbitrary or unreasonable limitation or interference
2 : freedom from physical restraint
3 : freedom from subjection to the will of another claiming ownership or services
4 : right the right to a fair trial is a fundamental liberty secured by the Fourteenth Amendment— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

Liberty geographical name

Lib·​er·​ty | \ ˈli-bər-tē How to pronounce Liberty (audio) \

Definition of Liberty

city in northwestern Missouri north-northeast of Kansas City population 29,149

More from Merriam-Webster on liberty

Nglish: Translation of liberty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liberty for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!