Definition of liberal adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈlɪbərəl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈlɪbərəl//
    Political views and systems
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    respecting other opinions
  1. 1willing to understand and respect other people’s behaviour, opinions, etc., especially when they are different from your own; believing people should be able to choose how they behave liberal attitudes/views/opinions
  2. politics
  3. 2 wanting or allowing a lot of political and economic freedom and supporting gradual social, political or religious change Some politicians want more liberal trade relations with Europe. liberal democracy liberal theories a liberal politician Wordfindercapitalism, communism, democracy, dictatorship, fascism, imperialism, liberal, radical, socialism, system See related entries: Political views and systems
  4. 3 Liberal connected with the British Liberal Party in the past, or of a Liberal Party in another country
  5. generous
  6. 4liberal (with something) generous; given in large amounts synonym lavish She is very liberal with her money. I think Sam is too liberal with his criticism (= he criticizes people too much). Divorced fathers should have liberal access to their children. We ate cake with liberal amounts of whipped cream.
  7. education
  8. 5concerned with increasing somebody’s general knowledge and experience rather than particular skills a liberal education
  9. not exact
  10. 6not completely accurate or exact synonym free a liberal translation of the text a liberal interpretation of the law
  11. Word OriginMiddle English: via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free (man)’. The original sense was ‘suitable for a free man’, hence ‘suitable for a gentleman’ (one not tied to a trade), surviving in liberal arts. Another early sense ‘generous’ (compare with sense (4)) gave rise to an obsolete meaning ‘free from restraint’, leading to sense (1) (late 18th cent.).Extra examples He is relatively liberal on social issues. His attitudes are fairly liberal. She’s very liberal with her advice! a broadly liberal policy programme a broadly liberal set of policies comparatively liberal in trade matters Her parents are very liberal and allow her a lot of freedom. His later films reflect the more liberal values of the 1960s. I think Sam is too liberal with his criticism. In some countries there is a more liberal attitude to euthanasia.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: liberal