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[lib-er-tee] /ˈlɪb ər ti/

a town in W Missouri.
noun (pl) -ties
the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction
the right or privilege of access to a particular place; freedom
(often pl) a social action regarded as being familiar, forward, or improper
(often pl) an action that is unauthorized or unwarranted in the circumstances: he took liberties with the translation

at liberty, free, unoccupied, or unrestricted
take liberties, to be overfamiliar or overpresumptuous (with)
take the liberty, to venture or presume (to do something)

late 14c., “free choice, freedom to do as one chooses,” from Old French liberté “freedom, liberty, free will” (14c.), from Latin libertatem (nominative libertas) “freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission,” from liber “free” (see liberal)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure it is right. [Learned Hand, 1944]

Nautical sense of “leave of absence” is from 1758. To take liberties “go beyond the bounds of propriety” is from 1620s. Sense of “privileges by grant” (14c.) led to sense of “a person’s private land” (mid-15c.), which yielded sense in 18c. England and America of “a district within a county but having its own justice of the peace,” and also “a district adjacent to a city and in some degree under its municipal jurisdiction” (e.g. Northern Liberties of Philadelphia). Also cf. Old French libertés “local rights, laws, taxes.”

Related Terms

at liberty


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  • Libertyville

    [lib-er-tee-vil] /ˈlɪb ər tiˌvɪl/ noun 1. a town in NE Illinois.

  • Libeskind

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  • Libia

    [Italian lee-byah] /Italian ˈli byɑ/ noun 1. . /ˈliːbja/ noun 1. the Italian name for Libya

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