[ ih-lib-er-uhl, ih-lib-ruhl ]
/ ɪˈlɪb ər əl, ɪˈlɪb rəl /


narrowminded; bigoted.
  1. not generous in giving; miserly; niggardly; stingy.
  2. Chiefly Literary. without culture or refinement; unscholarly; vulgar.

Origin of illiberal

From the Latin word illīberālis, dating back to 1525–35. See il-2, liberal
SYNONYMS FOR illiberal
Related formsil·lib·er·al·i·ty, il·lib·er·al·ness, il·lib·er·al·ism, nounil·lib·er·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for illiberalism

  • In spite of true generosity and kindliness, I was aware of an undercurrent of illiberalism and violence which amazed me.

  • There is scope abundant for Liberalism and illiberalism in personal conduct.

    Liberalism|L. T. Hobhouse

British Dictionary definitions for illiberalism


/ (ɪˈlɪbərəl) /


narrow-minded; prejudiced; bigoted; intolerant
not generous; mean
lacking in culture or refinement
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 illiberalism



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper