lib·​er·​ty | \ˈli-bər-tē \
plural liberties

Definition of liberty 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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


geographical name
Lib·​er·​ty | \ˈli-bər-tē \

Definition of Liberty (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Amendment 2 is an intentionally misleading measure that endangers the health, safety, and liberty of women. Dr. Yashica Robinson, Teen Vogue, "New Abortion Amendments in Alabama and West Virginia Show Need for Reproductive Rights Activism," 9 Nov. 2018 Also on the agenda: Civil rights and liberties; workplace protections and labor rights; Medicare for all; public education; and reproductive rights. Jill Filipovic, Harper's BAZAAR, "Your State-by-State Guide to Women Running in the Midterms," 31 Oct. 2018 Foy currently has no filming schedule in her sights, a liberty that has freed her up for other pursuits. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "Claire Foy on Becoming a Mother and Trading Her Crown for a Dragon Tattoo," 10 Oct. 2018 Forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy just in the hopes of finding a sponsor that has not been found in the past six weeks sacrifices J.D.’s constitutional liberty, autonomy, and personal dignity for no justifiable governmental reason. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Will Kill Roe," 11 July 2018 To further safeguard liberty, the framers insisted upon accountability for the exercise of executive power. Adam Liptak,, "As judge, Kavanaugh has been a conservative stalwart," 10 July 2018 Trump’s pick, if confirmed, could also be a deciding factor in matters related to affirmative action, religious liberties, and capital punishment. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Think President Trump Is About to Remake the Federal Judiciary? To Some Degree, He Already Has," 8 July 2018 Trump may have vowed to only nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, which would jeopardize women’s constitutional rights to liberty and privacy, in addition to ensuring that many women will die. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "Very Reassuring: Trump Says Ivanka and Melania ‘Love the Women’," 28 June 2018 Lawyers from Civil Rights Corps, in Washington, D.C., the Texas Fair Defense Project and free counsel from the Susman Godfrey law firm in Houston argued that poor people also had a fundamental right to pretrial liberty. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Harris County bail lawsuit in trial court for final revisions," 14 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for liberty

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for liberty

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

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More Definitions for liberty



English Language Learners Definition of liberty

: the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely

: the power to do or choose what you want to

: a political right


lib·​er·​ty | \ˈli-bər-tē \
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.


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on liberty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for liberty

Spanish Central: Translation of liberty

Nglish: Translation of liberty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liberty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on liberty

What made you want to look up liberty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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