noun, plural lib·er·ties.


    at liberty,
    1. free from captivity or restraint.
    2. unemployed; out of work.
    3. free to do or be as specified: You are at liberty to leave at any time during the meeting.

Origin of liberty

1325–75; Middle English liberte < Middle French < Latin lībertās, equivalent to līber free + -tās -ty2

Synonyms for liberty

4. liberation. See freedom. 6. franchise, permission, license, privilege, immunity. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for at liberty


noun plural -ties

the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction
the right or privilege of access to a particular place; freedom
(often plural) a social action regarded as being familiar, forward, or improper
(often plural) an action that is unauthorized or unwarranted in the circumstanceshe took liberties with the translation
  1. authorized leave granted to a sailor
  2. (as modifier)liberty man; liberty boat
at liberty free, unoccupied, or unrestricted
take liberties to be overfamiliar or overpresumptuous (with)
take the liberty to venture or presume (to do something)

Word Origin for liberty

C14: from Old French liberté, from Latin lībertās, from līber free
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for at liberty



late 14c., "free choice, freedom to do as one chooses," from Old French liberté "freedom, liberty, free will" (14c.), from Latin libertatem (nominative libertas) "freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission," from liber "free" (see liberal)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure it is right. [Learned Hand, 1944]

Nautical sense of "leave of absence" is from 1758. To take liberties "go beyond the bounds of propriety" is from 1620s. Sense of "privileges by grant" (14c.) led to sense of "a person's private land" (mid-15c.), which yielded sense in 18c. England and America of "a district within a county but having its own justice of the peace," and also "a district adjacent to a city and in some degree under its municipal jurisdiction" (e.g. Northern Liberties of Philadelphia). Also cf. Old French libertés "local rights, laws, taxes."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with at liberty

at liberty

Free, not obligated; also, not occupied. For example, I am not at liberty to tell you the whole story, or “I ... washed when there was a basin at liberty” (Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847). This idiom is often used in a negative context, as in the first example. [First half of 1800s]


see at liberty; take the liberty of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.