The liberal arts
Liberal Lib"er*al (l[i^]b"[~e]r*al), a. [F. lib['e]ral, L. liberalis, from liber free; perh. akin to libet, lubet, it pleases, E. lief. Cf. {Deliver}.] 1. Free by birth; hence, befitting a freeman or gentleman; refined; noble; independent; free; not servile or mean; as, a liberal ancestry; a liberal spirit; liberal arts or studies. `` Liberal education.'' --Macaulay. `` A liberal tongue.'' --Shak. [1913 Webster]

2. Bestowing in a large and noble way, as a freeman; generous; bounteous; open-handed; as, a liberal giver. `` Liberal of praise.'' --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

Infinitely good, and of his good As liberal and free as infinite. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

3. Bestowed in a large way; hence, more than sufficient; abundant; bountiful; ample; profuse; as, a liberal gift; a liberal discharge of matter or of water. [1913 Webster]

His wealth doth warrant a liberal dower. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

4. Not strict or rigorous; not confined or restricted to the literal sense; free; as, a liberal translation of a classic, or a liberal construction of law or of language. [1913 Webster]

5. Not narrow or contracted in mind; not selfish; enlarged in spirit; catholic. [1913 Webster]

6. Free to excess; regardless of law or moral restraint; licentious. `` Most like a liberal villain.'' --Shak. [1913 Webster]

7. Not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great freedom in the constitution or administration of government; having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic, forms; as, liberal thinkers; liberal Christians; the Liberal party. [1913 Webster]

I confess I see nothing liberal in this `` order of thoughts,'' as Hobbes elsewhere expresses it. --Hazlitt. [1913 Webster]

Note: Liberal has of, sometimes with, before the thing bestowed, in before a word signifying action, and to before a person or object on which anything is bestowed; as, to be liberal of praise or censure; liberal with money; liberal in giving; liberal to the poor. [1913 Webster]

{The liberal arts}. See under {Art}.

{Liberal education}, education that enlarges and disciplines the mind and makes it master of its own powers, irrespective of the particular business or profession one may follow. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Generous; bountiful; munificent; beneficent; ample; large; profuse; free.

Usage: {Liberal}, {Generous}. Liberal is freeborn, and generous is highborn. The former is opposed to the ordinary feelings of a servile state, and implies largeness of spirit in giving, judging, acting, etc. The latter expresses that nobleness of soul which is peculiarly appropriate to those of high rank, -- a spirit that goes out of self, and finds its enjoyment in consulting the feelings and happiness of others. Generosity is measured by the extent of the sacrifices it makes; liberality, by the warmth of feeling which it manifests. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The liberal arts — Art Art ([aum]rt), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.] 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The fine arts — Art Art ([aum]rt), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.] 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The industrial arts — Art Art ([aum]rt), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.] 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The mechanical arts — Art Art ([aum]rt), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.] 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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