laissez faire

or lais·ser faire

[ les-ey fair; French le-sey fer ]
See synonyms for laissez faire on
  1. the theory or system of government that upholds the autonomous character of the economic order, believing that government should intervene as little as possible in the direction of economic affairs.

  2. the practice or doctrine of noninterference in the affairs of others, especially with reference to individual conduct or freedom of action.

Origin of laissez faire

1815–25; <French: literally, allow to act

Words Nearby laissez faire

Other definitions for laissez-faire (2 of 2)


or lais·ser-faire

[ les-ey-fair; French le-sey-fer ]

  1. of, relating to, or conforming to the principles or practices of laissez faire.

Origin of laissez-faire

First recorded in 1815–25

Other words from laissez-faire

  • laissez-faireism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use laissez faire in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for laissez faire

laissez faire

laisser faire

/ (ˌlɛseɪ ˈfɛə, French lese fɛr) /

    • Also called: individualism the doctrine of unrestricted freedom in commerce, esp for private interests

    • (as modifier): a laissez-faire economy

  1. indifference or noninterference, esp in the affairs of others

Origin of laissez faire

French, literally: let (them) act

Derived forms of laissez faire

  • laissez-faireism or laisser-faireism, noun

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

Cultural definitions for laissez-faire


[ (les-ay-fair, lay-zay-fair) ]

French for “Let (people) do (as they choose).” It describes a system or point of view that opposes regulation or interference by the government in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary to allow the free enterprise system to operate according to its own laws.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.