n.; pl. Liberties (-
tĭz). [OE. liberte, F. liberté, 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
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.
Delivered fro the bondage of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the sons of God. Bible,
1551. Rom. viii. 21.
2. Freedom from imprisonment, bonds, or other
restraint upon locomotion.
Being pent from liberty, as I am
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.
4. Privilege; exemption; franchise; immunity
enjoyed by prescription or by grant; as, the liberties of the
commercial cities of Europe.
His majesty gave not an entire county to any; much
less did he grant . . . any extraordinary
liberties. Sir J. Davies.
5. The place within which certain immunities
are enjoyed, or jurisdiction is exercised. [Eng.]
Brought forth into some public or open place within
the liberty of the city, and there . . . burned.
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
7. A privilege or license in violation of the
laws of etiquette or propriety; as, to permit, or take, a
He was repeatedly provoked into striking those who had
taken liberties with him. Macaulay.
8. The power of choice; freedom from
necessity; freedom from compulsion or constraint in
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.
This liberty of judgment did not of necessity
lead to lawlessness. J. A. Symonds.
9. (Manege) A curve or arch in a bit
to afford room for the tongue of the horse.
10. (Naut.) Leave of absence;
permission to go on shore.
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
Syn. -- Leave; permission; license. -- 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.