Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free
Date: 14th century
a. of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education> b. archaic of or befitting a man of free birth 2. a. marked by generosity ; openhanded <a liberal giver> b. given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal> c. ample, full 3. obsolete lacking moral restraint ; licentious 4. not literal or strict ; loose <a liberal translation> 5. broad-minded; especially not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms 6. a. of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b. capitalized of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives • liberally adverb • liberalness noun Synonyms: liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. liberal suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given <a teacher liberal with her praise>. generous stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift <a generous offer of help>. bountiful suggests lavish, unremitting giving or providing <children spoiled by bountiful presents>. munificent suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes <a munificent foundation grant>. II. noun Date: 1820 a person who is liberal: as a. one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways b. capitalized a member or supporter of a liberal political party c. an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.