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



    BrE BrE//ˈlɪbərəl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈlɪbərəl//
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    somebody who respects others
  1. 1a person who understands and respects other people’s opinions and behaviour, especially when they are different from their own He liked to think of himself as a liberal.
  2. politics
  3. 2a person who supports political, social and religious change Reform is popular with middle-class liberals.
  4. 3 Liberal (politics) a member of the British Liberal Party in the past, or of a Liberal Party in another country
  5. 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.).
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: liberal