[ lib-er-uh-liz-uhm, lib-ruh- ]
See synonyms for: liberalismliberalistic on

  1. the quality or state of being liberal, as in behavior or attitude.

  2. a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.

  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) the principles and practices of a liberal party in politics.

  2. a movement in modern Protestantism that emphasizes freedom from tradition and authority, the adjustment of religious beliefs to scientific conceptions, and the development of spiritual capacities.

Origin of liberalism

First recorded in 1810–20; liberal + -ism

Other words from liberalism

  • lib·er·al·ist, noun, adjective
  • lib·er·al·is·tic, adjective
  • an·ti·lib·er·al·ism, noun
  • an·ti·lib·er·al·ist, noun, adjective
  • an·ti·lib·er·al·is·tic, adjective
  • non·lib·er·al·ism, noun
  • sem·i·lib·er·al·ism, noun

Words Nearby liberalism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use liberalism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for liberalism


/ (ˈlɪbərəˌlɪzəm, ˈlɪbrə-) /

  1. liberal opinions, practices, or politics

  2. a movement in modern Protestantism that rejects biblical authority

Derived forms of liberalism

  • liberalist, noun, adjective
  • liberalistic, adjective

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 liberalism


In the twentieth century, a viewpoint or ideology associated with free political institutions and religious toleration, as well as support for a strong role of government in regulating capitalism and constructing the welfare state (see also welfare state).

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.