Civil liberty
Liberty Lib"er*ty (l[i^]b"[~e]r*t[y^]), n.; pl. {Liberties} (-t[i^]z). [OE. liberte, F. libert['e], fr. L. libertas, fr. liber free. See {Liberal}.] 1. The state of a free person; exemption from subjection to the will of another claiming ownership of the person or services; freedom; -- opposed to slavery, serfdom, bondage, or subjection. [1913 Webster]

But ye . . . caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection. --Jer. xxxiv. 16. [1913 Webster]

Delivered fro the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. --Bible, 1551. Rom. viii. 21. [1913 Webster]

2. Freedom from imprisonment, bonds, or other restraint upon locomotion. [1913 Webster]

Being pent from liberty, as I am now. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

3. A privilege conferred by a superior power; permission granted; leave; as, liberty given to a child to play, or to a witness to leave a court, and the like. [1913 Webster]

4. Privilege; exemption; franchise; immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant; as, the liberties of the commercial cities of Europe. [1913 Webster]

His majesty gave not an entire county to any; much less did he grant . . . any extraordinary liberties. --Sir J. Davies. [1913 Webster]

5. The place within which certain immunities are enjoyed, or jurisdiction is exercised. [Eng.] [1913 Webster]

Brought forth into some public or open place within the liberty of the city, and there . . . burned. --Fuller. [1913 Webster]

6. A certain amount of freedom; permission to go freely within certain limits; also, the place or limits within which such freedom is exercised; as, the liberties of a prison. [1913 Webster]

7. A privilege or license in violation of the laws of etiquette or propriety; as, to permit, or take, a liberty. [1913 Webster]

He was repeatedly provoked into striking those who had taken liberties with him. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster]

8. The power of choice; freedom from necessity; freedom from compulsion or constraint in willing. [1913 Webster]

The idea of liberty is the idea of a power in any agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, whereby either of them is preferred to the other. --Locke. [1913 Webster]

This liberty of judgment did not of necessity lead to lawlessness. --J. A. Symonds. [1913 Webster]

9. (Manege) A curve or arch in a bit to afford room for the tongue of the horse. [1913 Webster]

10. (Naut.) Leave of absence; permission to go on shore. [1913 Webster]

{At liberty}. (a) Unconfined; free. (b) At leisure.

{Civil liberty}, exemption from arbitrary interference with person, opinion, or property, on the part of the government under which one lives, and freedom to take part in modifying that government or its laws.

{Liberty bell}. See under {Bell}.

{Liberty cap}. (a) The Roman pileus which was given to a slave at his manumission. (b) A limp, close-fitting cap with which the head of representations of the goddess of liberty is often decked. It is sometimes represented on a spear or a liberty pole.

{Liberty of the press}, freedom to print and publish without official supervision.

{Liberty party}, the party, in the American Revolution, which favored independence of England; in more recent usage, a party which favored the emancipation of the slaves.

{Liberty pole}, a tall flagstaff planted in the ground, often surmounted by a liberty cap. [U. S.]

{Moral liberty}, that liberty of choice which is essential to moral responsibility.

{Religious liberty}, freedom of religious opinion and worship. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Leave; permission; license.

Usage: {Liberty}, {Freedom}. These words, though often interchanged, are distinct in some of their applications. Liberty has reference to previous restraint; freedom, to the simple, unrepressed exercise of our powers. A slave is set at liberty; his master had always been in a state of freedom. A prisoner under trial may ask liberty (exemption from restraint) to speak his sentiments with freedom (the spontaneous and bold utterance of his feelings). The liberty of the press is our great security for freedom of thought. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • civil liberty — n: freedom from arbitrary interference in one s pursuits (as in expressing thoughts, practicing a religion, or pursuing a living) by individuals or esp. by the government and esp. as constitutionally guaranteed usu. used in pl. see also civil… …   Law dictionary

  • civil liberty —    Civil liberty (or liberties) refers to those areas in which governmental power should rarely intrude on the free choice of individuals. It restrains the interference of government, marking out a sphere of governmental inactivity. Examples… …   Glossary of UK Government and Politics

  • civil liberty — ► NOUN 1) freedom of action and speech subject to laws established for the good of the community. 2) (civil liberties) one s rights to this. DERIVATIVES civil libertarian noun …   English terms dictionary

  • civil liberty — n [U] also civil liberties the right of all citizens to be free to do whatever they want while respecting the rights of other people …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • civil liberty — noun 1. one s freedom to exercise one s rights as guaranteed under the laws of the country • Syn: ↑political liberty • Hypernyms: ↑freedom 2. fundamental individual right protected by law and expressed as immunity from unwarranted governmental… …   Useful english dictionary

  • civil liberty — Usually, civil liberties. 1. the freedom of a citizen to exercise customary rights, as of speech or assembly, without unwarranted or arbitrary interference by the government. 2. such a right as guaranteed by the laws of a country, as in the U.S.… …   Universalium

  • civil liberty — civ′il lib′erty n. 1) gov Often, civil liberties. a fundamental right, as freedom of speech, guaranteed to an individual by the laws of a country (as the Bill of Rights in the U.S.) 2) gov the liberty of an individual to exercise such a right… …   From formal English to slang

  • civil liberty — noun freedom of action and speech subject to laws established for the good of the community. ↘(civil liberties) one s rights to this. Derivatives civil libertarian noun …   English new terms dictionary

  • civil liberty — noun Date: 1644 freedom from arbitrary governmental interference (as with the right of free speech) specifically by denial of governmental power and in the United States especially as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights usually used in plural •… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • civil liberty — also civil liberties noun (uncountable plural) the right of all citizens to be free to do whatever they want while respecting the rights of other people …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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