a. [F. libéral, 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.
2. Bestowing in a large and noble way, as a
freeman; generous; bounteous; open-handed; as, a liberal
giver. " Liberal of praise." Bacon.
Infinitely good, and of his good
As liberal and free as infinite.
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.
His wealth doth warrant a liberal
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
5. Not narrow or contracted in mind; not
selfish; enlarged in spirit; catholic.
6. Free to excess; regardless of law or moral
restraint; licentious. " Most like a liberal villain."
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.
I confess I see nothing liberal in this " order
of thoughts," as Hobbes elsewhere expresses it.
☞ 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.
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
Syn. -- Generous; bountiful; munificent; beneficent; ample;
large; profuse; free. -- 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.