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

Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice who will stand up for liberty and justice for all — not someone picked from a list compiled by right-wing organizations to do their bidding. Christina Tkacik,, "What they're saying in Maryland about SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh," 10 July 2018 These men fought to commemorate Lafayette’s support for U.S. liberty, and after U.S. troops reached France in World War I, Lieut. Alice George, Smithsonian, "The American Revolution Was Just One Battlefront in a Huge World War," 28 June 2018 Kennedy’s opinion cited the Constitution’s protections for liberty and equality. David G. Savage,, "Justice Anthony Kennedy's biggest decisions," 27 June 2018 Thursday wasn’t a complete loss for liberty at the Supreme Court. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Administrative Law Smackdown," 21 June 2018 Dilophosaurus Definitely the one dinosaur Jurassic Park took the most liberties with. Emma Stefansky, GQ, "The Definitive Jurassic Park Dinosaur Power Rankings," 21 June 2018 To celebrate May the 4th, rounded up some of the more colorful Star Wars fans who have taken creative liberties with their cosplay costumes. William Axford, Houston Chronicle, "Hip hop, Walking Dead & Deadpool: Check out these unique Star Wars cosplay mashups," 4 May 2018 Stagg’s now-husband took creative liberties with his suit as well. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "How One Downtown Fashion It Girl Skipped the Wedding Dress in Favor of a Men’s Look," 27 Apr. 2018 For most of American history, the court worked to restrict the individual liberties of women and nonwhite Americans. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Brett Kavanaugh’s Qualifications Don’t Matter," 10 July 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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Phrases Related to liberty

Liberty Bell

take liberties

take the liberty of

Statistics for liberty

Last Updated

22 Sep 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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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