noun lib·er·ty \ ˈli-bər-tē \
|Updated on: 14 Jul 2018

Definition of liberty

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 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
at liberty
1 : free
2 : at leisure : unoccupied

Examples of liberty in a Sentence

  1. a nation that values liberty and democracy

  2. soldiers willing to die in defense of liberty

  3. They gave him the liberty to handle the problem himself.

  4. hard-won liberties such as freedom of the press

Recent Examples of liberty from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of liberty

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

Synonym Discussion of 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


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

Definition of Liberty

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

LIBERTY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of liberty for English Language Learners

  • : 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

LIBERTY Defined for Kids


noun lib·er·ty \ ˈli-bər-tē \

Definition of liberty for Students

plural liberties
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.

Law Dictionary


noun lib·er·ty

legal Definition of liberty

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 Amendment
  • —W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

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one who attends or assists a leader

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