lib·er·al (lĭbər-əl, lĭbrəl)
a. Favoring reform, open to new ideas, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not bound by traditional thinking; broad-minded. See Synonyms at broad-minded.
b. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
c. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
b. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
3. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.
4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.
a. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
b. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
2. Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.
[Middle English, generous, from Old French, from Latin līberālis, from līber, free; see leudh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: liberal, freehanded, generous, munificent, openhanded
These adjectives mean willing or marked by a willingness to give unstintingly: a liberal backer of the arts; a freehanded host; a generous donation; a munificent gift; fond and openhanded grandparents.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.