adjective lib·er·al \ˈli-b(ə-)rəl\

: believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change : relating to or supporting political liberalism

Liberal : of or belonging to the liberal political party in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom

: not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted

Full Definition of LIBERAL

a :  of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education>
b archaic :  of or befitting a man of free birth
a :  marked by generosity :  openhanded <a liberal giver>
b :  given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal>
c :  ample, full
obsolete :  lacking moral restraint :  licentious
:  not literal or strict :  loose <a liberal translation>
:  broad-minded; especially :  not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
a :  of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
b capitalized :  of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially :  of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives
lib·er·al·ly \-b(ə-)rə-lē\ adverb
lib·er·al·ness noun

Examples of LIBERAL

  1. Many fishermen keep their holes from freezing over with liberal injections of antifreeze. —Time, 28 Feb. 1974

Origin of LIBERAL

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of LIBERAL

liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given <a teacher liberal with her praise>. generous stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift <a generous offer of help>. bountiful suggests lavish, unremitting giving or providing <children spoiled by bountiful presents>. munificent suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes <a munificent foundation grant>.


noun lib·er·al \ˈli-b(ə-)rəl\

: a person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change : a person who is politically liberal

Liberal : a member or supporter of a liberal political party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada

Full Definition of LIBERAL

:  a person who is liberal: as
a :  one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways
b capitalized :  a member or supporter of a liberal political party (see 1liberal)
c :  an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights

Origin of LIBERAL

(see 1liberal)
First Known Use: 1820
LIBERAL Defined for Kids


adjective lib·er·al \ˈli-bə-rəl, ˈli-brəl\

Definition of LIBERAL for Kids

:  not stingy :  generous <She made a liberal donation.>
:  not strict <That's a liberal interpretation of the rule.>
:  broad 4 <I got a liberal education.>
lib·er·al·ly adverb


Next Word in the Dictionary: liberal artsPrevious Word in the Dictionary: LiberaAll Words Near: liberal
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears