Definition of liberty in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɪbəti/

noun (plural liberties)

[mass noun]
1The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s behaviour or political views: compulsory retirement would interfere with individual liberty
More example sentences
  • In Condorcet's view modern society and individual liberty could be served only by public instruction understood in this sense.
  • Technology has the capability to impose graduated restrictions on liberty, but this is an issue the Government is specifically avoiding confronting.
  • In addition to providing society with political liberty and justice, a single tax on land promotes economic efficiency.
independence, freedom, autonomy, sovereignty, self government, self rule, self determination, home rule;
civil liberties, civil rights, human rights
rare autarky
1.1The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved: people who attacked phone boxes would lose their liberty
More example sentences
  • May I remind you that if you drive while disqualified over the next two years, you could lose your liberty.
  • Mrs Camidge said: ‘For the last two months he has been living in fear of losing his liberty through his foolishness.’
  • Criminals are being warned that they could lose their liberty and their lavish lifestyle thanks to the dedicated efforts of a North Yorkshire Police team.
1.2The power or scope to act as one pleases: individuals should enjoy the liberty to pursue their own preferences
More example sentences
  • Freedom is a condition of the mind: this means that you have the internal power to exercise your liberty.
  • Are there regions of the globe where the inhabitants have been condemned by their environment never to enjoy liberty, never to exercise their reason?
  • It means that you cannot deny that a human being has the rightful liberty to pursue - to practice or to seek - happiness as he sees fit.
freedom, independence, free rein, freeness, licence, self-determination;
free will, latitude, option, choice;
volition, non-compulsion, non-coercion, non-confinement;
leeway, margin, scope, elbow room
1.3 Philosophy A person’s freedom from control by fate or necessity.
Example sentences
  • He said in part that Hobbes's freedom or liberty, which amounts to not being frustrated, is no great thing.
  • There would also be a loss of liberty or freedom for the morally wicked, since they would be punished or otherwise made to suffer.
  • It would, I think, be generally agreed that he has laid down a necessary condition of liberty.
2 [count noun] (usually liberties) A right or privilege, especially a statutory one: the Bill of Rights was intended to secure basic civil liberties
More example sentences
  • He says currently human rights and fundamental liberties are not enshrined clearly and completely anywhere in Australian legislation.
  • We believed that our rights, privileges and liberties did not derive from the king or government, but rather were a gift from god.
  • The Great Charter confirmed previous royal charters and incorporates previous liberties, privileges and exemptions, which the city had formerly enjoyed.
right, birthright, opportunity, facility, prerogative, entitlement, privilege, permission, sanction, leave, consent, authorization, authority, licence, clearance, blessing, dispensation, exemption, faculty;
French carte blanche
3 [count noun] informal A presumptuous remark or action: how did he know what she was thinking?—it was a liberty!
4 Nautical Shore leave granted to a sailor.
Example sentences
  • Second, when their workload permits, Sailors get special liberty the day before their final exams to study, similar to what many commands do for advancement exams.
  • Sailors on the ship, ashore on liberty or in the local community would raise their level of awareness and be on the lookout for anything unusual.
  • A Sailor, on liberty in a foreign port, was returning to his ship when a knife-wielding assassin attacked him.



at liberty

1Not imprisoned: he was at liberty for three months before he was recaptured
More example sentences
  • At present there are a number of persons accused of murder at liberty on bail and in some cases it is many months after the alleged murder that the case comes to trial.
  • The defendant remained at liberty under his original bond of $35,000.
  • She submits that the purpose, or at least a purpose, of imprisonment is to punish the criminal by depriving him of certain rights and pleasures which he can only enjoy when at liberty.
free, on the loose, loose, set loose, at large, unconfined, roaming;
unbound, untied, unchained, unshackled, unfettered, unrestrained, unrestricted, wild, untrammelled;
escaped, out
informal sprung
2Allowed or entitled to do something: he’s not at liberty to discuss his real work
More example sentences
  • Desdemona said a friend was storing valuables there, and she wasn't at liberty to allow them in.
  • We are being put at risk, because patients are free to roam and at liberty to abscond.
  • In fact, a principal authority is at liberty to withdraw the functions assigned to an agent.
free, permitted, allowed, authorized, able, entitled, eligible, fit;
unconstrained, unrestricted, unhindered, without constraint

take liberties

1Behave in an unduly familiar or easy manner towards someone or something: you’ve taken too many liberties with me
More example sentences
  • I got on well with my teammates, but I think that would have been taking liberties towards the club.
  • Over time, the children of family members may take liberties that when left unchecked, become real problems.
  • Still, the advertisements are part of a growing strain of Web marketing that takes liberties with requested Web pages, browsers and e-mail in-boxes, making it harder for people to ignore ads.
act with overfamiliarity, act with familiarity, show disrespect, act with impropriety, act indecorously, be impudent, commit a breach of etiquette, act with boldness, act with impertinence, show insolence, show impudence, show presumptuousness, show presumption, show forwardness, show audacity, be unrestrained;
take advantage of, exploit
2Treat something freely, without strict faithfulness to the facts or to an original: the scriptwriter has taken few liberties with the original narrative
More example sentences
  • Doing so is disingenuous, and takes liberties with the facts and the policy of this matter.
  • This is one of the problems of an adaptation, where the writer must decide between a faithful, textually based adaptation and one that takes liberties in order to make it a better film.
  • For Parker, the traditionalists who accuse him of taking liberties are one of the targets.

take the liberty

Venture to do something without first asking permission: I took the liberty of checking out a few convalescent homes for him
More example sentences
  • I took the liberty of fiddling with the scansion in Lines 3 and 7.
  • My head feels as if it is stuffed with cotton wool, my tongue is made from plywood and someone took the liberty of welding a high pitched electronic buzzer to the inside of my middle ear.
  • I took the liberty of participating in the coed and competitive basketball leagues and found, to my surprise, that there are a lot of good players.


Late Middle English: from Old French liberte, from Latin libertas, from liber 'free'.

  • The root of liberty is Latin liber ‘free’, the source also of liberal (Middle English) , libertine (Late Middle English), and livery (Middle English), and deliver. During the French Revolution the rallying cry was ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’. Supporters of change wore the cap of liberty, a red conical cap of a type that had originally been given to Roman slaves when they were freed.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: lib|erty

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