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

More examples

  • Espousal of such liberal ideas won't make her very popular around here.
  • Despite his apparent liberal views, he's really something of a puritan.
  • His natural supporters are the urban poor, and educated people of a liberal turn of mind.
  • He has very liberal attitudes towards sex.
  • My family are very liberal-minded.

liberal adjective (POLITICS)

C1 (of a political party or a country) believing in or allowing more personal freedom and development towards a fairer sharing of wealth and power within society

Examples

  • Dole portrayed the president in campaign speeches as a 'closet liberal'.
  • Her politics have become more liberal over the past few years.
  • I'm sick of bleeding-heart liberal politicians.
  • She is interested in liberal policies.
  • He believes that the liberal agenda is damaging to our country.
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)