What does Liberal mean?

Definitions for Liberal
ˈlɪb ər əl, ˈlɪb rəllib·er·al

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word Liberal.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. liberal, liberalist, progressivenoun

    a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties

  2. liberaladjective

    a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets

  3. broad, large-minded, liberal, tolerantadjective

    showing or characterized by broad-mindedness

    "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions"

  4. liberaladjective

    having political or social views favoring reform and progress

  5. liberaladjective

    tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition

  6. big, bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, handsome, giving, liberal, openhandedadjective

    given or giving freely

    "was a big tipper"; "the bounteous goodness of God"; "bountiful compliments"; "a freehanded host"; "a handsome allowance"; "Saturday's child is loving and giving"; "a liberal backer of the arts"; "a munificent gift"; "her fond and openhanded grandfather"

  7. free, loose, liberaladjective

    not literal

    "a loose interpretation of what she had been told"; "a free translation of the poem"


  1. liberalnoun

    One with liberal views, supporting individual liberty (see Wikipedia on Liberalism for a description of the various and diverging trends of liberalism).

  2. liberalnoun

    A supporter of any of the particular liberal parties.

  3. liberalnoun

    One on the left-wing of the American political spectrum. Sometimes used pejoratively in political campaigns.

  4. liberalnoun

    A person who favors individual voting rights, human and civil rights, individual gun rights, laissez-faire markets, and the gold standard.

  5. liberaladjective

    Pertaining to those arts and sciences whose study was considered "worthy of a free man" (as opposed to servile, mechanical); worthy, befitting a gentleman.

    He had a full education studying the liberal arts.

  6. liberaladjective

    Generous, bountiful.

    He was liberal with his compliments.

  7. liberaladjective

    Generous in quantity, abundant.

    Add a liberal sprinkling of salt.

  8. liberaladjective

    Unrestrained, licentious.

  9. liberaladjective

    Widely open to new ideas, willing to depart from established opinions, conventions etc.; permissive.

    Her parents had liberal ideas about child-rearing.

  10. liberaladjective

    Open to political or social changes and reforms associated with either classical or modern liberalism.

  11. Liberaladjective

    Generous, in great amount, a large proportion

    He had a full education studying the liberal arts.

  12. Liberaladjective

    Of or relating to the Liberal party, its membership, or its platform, policy, or viewpoint.

    He had a full education studying the liberal arts.

  13. Liberalnoun

    A member or supporter of a Liberal Party

  14. Liberalnoun

    A member or supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada, or its predecessors, or provincial equivalents, or their predecessors

  15. Liberalnoun

    A Liberal Democrat.

  16. Liberalnoun

    A Whig

  17. Etymology: From liberal, from liberalis, from liber.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Liberaladjective

    Etymology: liberalis, Latin; liberal. French.

    Her name was Mercy, well known over all
    To be both gracious and eke liberal. Edmund Spenser, Fa. Queen.

    Sparing would shew a worse sin than ill doctrine.
    Men of his way should be most liberal,
    They’re set here for examples. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII.

    Needs must the pow’r
    That made us, and for us this ample world,
    Be infinitely good, and of his good
    As liberal and free, as infinite. John Milton.

    There is no art better than to be liberal of praise and commendation to others, in that wherein a man’s self hath any perfection. Francis Bacon, Essays.

    The liberal are secure alone;
    For what we frankly give, for ever is our own. George Granville.

    Several clergymen, otherwise little fond of obscure terms, are, in their sermons, very liberal of all those which they find in ecclesiastical writers, as if it were our duty to understand them. Jonathan Swift.


  1. liberal

    A liberal is an individual or group advocating for political, economic, legal, and social reform or progress. This often includes support for civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, and environmental protection policies. Liberals typically believe in government intervention to address social and economic inequalities. Liberalism, as a political and moral philosophy, can vary worldwide but generally emphasizes notions of equality, liberty, and championing the rights of the individual.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Liberaladjective

    free by birth; hence, befitting a freeman or gentleman; refined; noble; independent; free; not servile or mean; as, a liberal ancestry; a liberal spirit; liberal arts or studies

  2. Liberaladjective

    bestowing in a large and noble way, as a freeman; generous; bounteous; open-handed; as, a liberal giver

  3. Liberaladjective

    bestowed in a large way; hence, more than sufficient; abundant; bountiful; ample; profuse; as, a liberal gift; a liberal discharge of matter or of water

  4. Liberaladjective

    not strict or rigorous; not confined or restricted to the literal sense; free; as, a liberal translation of a classic, or a liberal construction of law or of language

  5. Liberaladjective

    not narrow or contracted in mind; not selfish; enlarged in spirit; catholic

  6. Liberaladjective

    free to excess; regardless of law or moral restraint; licentious

  7. Liberaladjective

    not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great freedom in the constitution or administration of government; having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic, forms; as, liberal thinkers; liberal Christians; the Liberal party

  8. Liberalnoun

    one who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters; an opponent of the established systems; a reformer; in English politics, a member of the Liberal party, so called. Cf. Whig


  1. Liberal

    Liberal is an unincorporated community in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States. It lies on Oregon Route 213 between Mulino and Molalla. The community of Liberal grew up three miles south of Mulino on the south side of the Molalla River. The Liberal crossroads is located at the mutual corners of the donation land claims established in the 1840s by Harrison Wright, William Russell, W. D. Woodcock, James Barnard and Francis Jackson. As the original land claims began to be parceled out, the area was settled in the mid-19th century, primarily by Swiss and German families. According to local tradition, the community was named after the "liberal" credit practices of the founder of the Liberal Store. Liberal currently includes the historic Liberal Store, an active sawmill, a chicken feed mill, a multi-generational family farm, and the Evangelical Community Chapel, a church that has continuously held weekly meetings since its founding in 1900.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Liberal

    lib′ėr-al, adj. becoming a gentleman: generous: noble-minded: candid: free: free from restraint: general, extensive.—n. one who advocates greater freedom in political institutions.—n. Liberalisā′tion, the process of making liberal.—v.t. Lib′eralise, to make liberal, or enlightened: to enlarge.—ns. Lib′eralism, the principles of a Liberal in politics or religion; Liberal′ity, the quality of being liberal: generosity: largeness or nobleness of mind: candour: impartiality.—adv. Lib′erally.—v.t. Lib′erāte, to set free: to release from restraint, confinement, or bondage.—ns. Liberā′tion; Liberā′tionist, one who is in favour of church disestablishment; Lib′erātor, one who liberates or frees.—adj. Lib′erātory, tending to liberate.—Liberal Party, the name adopted by the Whigs (1830) to denote the body formed by their union with the Radicals; Liberal Unionist, one of that section of the Liberal Party which joined the Conservatives from inability to accede to Mr Gladstone's policy of giving Home Rule to Ireland (1886); German Liberals, a party in German politics, formed by the amalgamation of the Progressist party and the Liberal union, and advocating moderate liberalism in opposition to the policy of Prince Bismarck; National Liberals, a party in German politics which before 1871 advocated the completion of governmental unity in Germany, as well as supported progressive measures of reform. [Fr.,—L. liberalis, befitting a freeman—liber, free, akin to libet, lubet, it pleases.]

Etymology and Origins

  1. Liberal

    The modern designation of the Progressive or “Whig” Party. This arose out of Lord Byron’s political magazine, The Liberal, in 1828, though the name was not formally assumed until the agitation for the Reform Bill in 1831.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Liberal is ranked #105079 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Liberal surname appeared 170 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Liberal.

    73.5% or 125 total occurrences were Black.
    9.4% or 16 total occurrences were White.
    7.6% or 13 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    5.2% or 9 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Liberal' in Nouns Frequency: #2869

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Liberal' in Adjectives Frequency: #254

How to pronounce Liberal?

How to say Liberal in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of Liberal in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of Liberal in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of Liberal in a Sentence

  1. Frank Decker:

    In the minds of many people, his arrival is directly linked to Merkel and her liberal refugee policies.

  2. Chad Bown:

    As the UK is part of the coalition of liberal trading economies in the EU, the U.S. is losing one of the more like-minded countries from the group in Brussels sitting on the other side of the negotiating table.

  3. Henry David Thoreau:

    The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.

  4. Richard Steele:

    To behold her is an immediate check to loose behavior; to love her is a liberal education.

  5. Anand Mahindra:

    In a time of unprecedented economic stress, the government’s responsibility was to spend enough to revive the economy or else face enormous human suffering, so I had one expectation from this budget: that we should be very liberal in terms of the targeted fiscal deficit. Box ticked.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for Liberal

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"Liberal." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/Liberal>.

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1 Comment
  • Ethan Baker
    Ethan Baker
    How Does One Become A Liberal?
    LikeReply8 years ago

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