lib·​er·​tine ˈli-bər-ˌtēn How to pronounce libertine (audio)
disparaging : a freethinker especially in religious matters
: a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality
specifically : one leading a dissolute life
libertines indulging a variety of amorous impulses Mel White
libertine adjective

Did you know?

"I only ask to be free," says Mr. Skimpole in Charles Dickens' Bleak House, and his words would undoubtedly have appealed to the world's first libertines. The word libertinus was used in early writings of Roman antiquity to describe a slave who had been set free (the Roman term for an emancipated slave was the Latin libertus). The "freedman" sense of libertine was extended to freethinkers, both religious and secular, and later came to imply that an individual was a little too unrestrained, especially in moral situations. The Latin root of libertine is liber, the ultimate source of our word liberty.

Examples of libertine in a Sentence

libertines of the royal court the legend of Don Juan depicts him as a playboy and libertine

Word History


Middle English libertyn freedman, from Latin libertinus, from libertinus, adjective, of a freedman, from libertus freedman, from liber — see liberal entry 1

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of libertine was in 1577


Dictionary Entries Near libertine

Cite this Entry

“Libertine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


lib·​er·​tine ˈlib-ər-ˌtēn How to pronounce libertine (audio)
: a person who leads an immoral life
libertine adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on libertine

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