liberal Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “liberal” in the English Dictionary

"liberal" in British English

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liberaladjective

uk   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl/ us   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl/
  • liberal adjective (SOCIETY)

C1 respecting and allowing many different types of beliefs or behaviour: a liberal society/attitude Her parents were far more liberal than mine.
Opposite

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liberalism
noun [U] uk   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl.ɪ.zəm/ us   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl.ɪ.zəm/
liberality
noun [U] uk   /ˌlɪb.ərˈæl.ə.ti/ us   /ˌlɪb.əˈræl.ə.t̬i/ formal
liberally
adverb uk   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl.i/ us   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl.i/ formal
Apply the cream liberally to the affected area.

liberalnoun [C]

uk   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl/ us   /ˈlɪb.ər.əl/
(Definition of liberal from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"liberal" in American English

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liberaladjective

us   /ˈlɪb·ər·əl/
  • liberal adjective (SOCIAL)

allowing many different types of beliefs or behavior: a liberal society/person
  • liberal adjective (POLITICS)

politics & government tending to emphasize the need to make new laws when necessary because of changing conditions and to depend on the government to provide social services: a liberal policy/position
  • liberal adjective (GENEROUS)

giving or given in a generous way: Some merchants offer very liberal return policies, but others are strict.
  • liberal adjective (NOT EXACT)

without attention to or interest in small details: Other teachers are a lot more liberal about spelling errors than Mr. Brady.

liberalnoun [C]

us   /ˈlɪb·ə·rəl/
  • liberal noun [C] (POLITICALLY LIBERAL PERSON)

a person who thinks the government needs to make new laws when necessary because of changing conditions and who believes that the government should provide social services: Liberals in Congress support the bill.
(Definition of liberal from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"liberal" in Business English

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liberaladjective

uk   /ˈlɪbərəl/ us  
respecting and allowing many different types of beliefs or behaviour: a liberal society/attitude/view Changing attitudes to sexuality are a reflection of a more liberal society.a liberal policy/stance The government defends its liberal policy on soft drugs.
POLITICS used to describe political beliefs and groups that support more personal freedom and a fairer sharing of wealth and power in society: The federal government is bound to be a coalition involving the liberal party.
ECONOMICS, POLITICS used to describe an economic system that allows industry to be free to develop without the involvement of government: The successes of liberal economic policies in the US and Britain act as powerful examples.
giving or given in a generous way: Terms were liberal, with small down payments and government financing.
not exact, and without attention to or interest in detail: They now take a more liberal interpretation of their powers.

liberalnoun [C]

uk   /ˈlɪbərəl/ us  
someone who respects many different types of beliefs or behaviour: Liberals believe that in order to defend our own freedom we ought to defend those of our fellow citizens.
someone who supports personal freedom and a fairer sharing of wealth and power in society: He described his opponent as a liberal who would tax the rich.
(Definition of liberal from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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