liberty

noun

lib·​er·​ty ˈli-bər-tē How to pronounce liberty (audio)
plural liberties
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
2
a
: 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
Phrases
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 For many decades, the spirit of liberty endured—not easily or without conflict, with ebbs, flows, and doldrums, but sturdily enough. Lincoln Caplan, The New Yorker, 4 July 2024 To Benjamin Rush, if liberty and equality were the birthright of every human soul, then slavery must be the enemy of the American Revolution. Joseph Loconte, National Review, 4 July 2024 As our Marylanders sacrificed themselves without question to save what would have been the complete destruction of the young inexperienced Continental Army, Washington watched through his spy glass the astonishing bravery and commented on such brave men dying for the cause of liberty. Christopher Eric Bouchat, Baltimore Sun, 4 July 2024 Nearly 250 years later, personal liberty remains the great gift of our national sovereignty movement, and while signers of the Declaration of Independence couldn’t have imagined it in 1776, the emergence of public land is one of the great expressions of our national identity. Andrew McKean, Outdoor Life, 4 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for liberty 

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near liberty

Cite this Entry

“Liberty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberty. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

liberty

noun
lib·​er·​ty ˈlib-ərt-ē How to pronounce liberty (audio)
plural liberties
1
: the condition of those who are free and independent : freedom
2
: power to do what one pleases
give the child some liberty
3
: an action that goes beyond normal limits (as of proper behavior or good sense)
took liberties with the truth
4
: a short authorized absence from naval duty

Legal Definition

liberty

noun
lib·​er·​ty
plural liberties
1
a
: 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 AmendmentW. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

Geographical Definition

Liberty

geographical name

Lib·​er·​ty ˈli-bər-tē How to pronounce Liberty (audio)
city in northwestern Missouri north-northeast of Kansas City population 29,149

More from Merriam-Webster on liberty

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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