• synonyms


[ih-lib-er-uhl, ih-lib-ruhl]
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  1. narrowminded; bigoted.
  2. Archaic.
    1. not generous in giving; miserly; niggardly; stingy.
    2. Chiefly Literary.without culture or refinement; unscholarly; vulgar.
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Origin of illiberal

From the Latin word illīberālis, dating back to 1525–35. See il-2, liberal
Related formsil·lib·er·al·i·ty, il·lib·er·al·ness, il·lib·er·al·ism, nounil·lib·er·al·ly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

biased, bigoted, greedy, mean, myopic, parsimonious, partial, prejudiced, stingy, ungenerous, vulgar, hidebound

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British Dictionary definitions for illiberal


  1. narrow-minded; prejudiced; bigoted; intolerant
  2. not generous; mean
  3. lacking in culture or refinement
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Derived Formsilliberality, illiberalness or illiberalism, nounilliberally, adverb
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 illiberal


1530s, "ungentlemanly, base, mean," from Middle French illiberal (14c.), from Latin illiberalis "ungenerous, mean, sordid; unworthy of a freeman," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + liberalis (see liberal). A sense of "narrow-minded politically; unconcerned with the rights or liberties of others" is attested from 1640s, and might conceivably be revived to take up some of the burden that drags down conservative.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper