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noun, plural lib·er·ties.
  1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
  2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
  3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
  4. freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint: The prisoner soon regained his liberty.
  5. permission granted to a sailor, especially in the navy, to go ashore.
  6. freedom or right to frequent or use a place: The visitors were given the liberty of the city.
  7. unwarranted or impertinent freedom in action or speech, or a form or instance of it: to take liberties.
  8. a female figure personifying freedom from despotism.
  1. 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

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4. liberation. See freedom. 6. franchise, permission, license, privilege, immunity.


  1. a town in W Missouri. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for liberty

Contemporary Examples of liberty

Historical Examples of liberty

British Dictionary definitions for liberty


noun plural -ties
  1. the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction
  2. the right or privilege of access to a particular place; freedom
  3. (often plural) a social action regarded as being familiar, forward, or improper
  4. (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
  5. at liberty free, unoccupied, or unrestricted
  6. take liberties to be overfamiliar or overpresumptuous (with)
  7. 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 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 liberty


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.