- The condition of being free from restriction or control.
- The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself
in a manner of one's own choosing.
- The condition of being physically and legally free from
confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
- Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control.
- A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control
the liberties protected by the Bill of
- A breach or overstepping of propriety or social
convention. Often used in the plural.
- A statement, attitude, or action not warranted by
conditions or actualities: a historical novel that takes
liberties with chronology.
- An unwarranted risk; a chance: took foolish
liberties on the ski slopes.
- Not in confinement or under constraint; free.
- Not employed, occupied, or in use.
[Middle English liberte, from Old French, from Latin
libertas , from liber, free.
See also leudh- in
freedom, liberty, license
These nouns refer to the power to
act, speak, or think without externally imposed restraints.
Freedom is the most
general term: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free”
Liberty implies a condition of previous servitude, from which a person or persons are now freed*. The word is most frequently used to stress the power of free choice: “liberty, perfect
liberty; to think, feel, do just as one pleases” (William Hazlitt).
sometimes denotes deliberate deviation from normally applicable rules or
practices to achieve a desired effect: poetic license.
Frequently, though, it
denotes undue freedom: “the intolerable license with which the newspapers
break... the rules of decorum” (Edmund Burke).
* see the Latin words "Libertini"/"Libertus"/"Liberta" (a freed slave) and
"Libertas" (a free man: one who is not a slave, servant, apprentice, or active soldier).