The Meaning of Liberal: What It Is and How To Use It

What does the word liberal mean, and how is it used in politics? This article will cover the various meanings of liberal and how to use them.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

Have you heard the term liberal used and wondered if you can use it outside of politics? This article will cover the many meanings of the term liberal and how to use them in a sentence. After reading this article, you will be able to use the word liberal in a sentence and know translations, synonyms, the origin of the word, and antonyms. Let’s dive in! 

What Does the Word Liberal Mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, liberal is an adjective that means abundant, generous, or free. The word liberal is three syllables (lib-er-al), and the pronunciation of the word liberal is ˈlɪbrəl

The term liberal can also refer to the political philosophy of progress, also known as political liberalism or a liberal democrat. Classical liberalism and modern liberalism advocate for a platform of individual voting rights, individual liberty, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, and a larger federal government. 

How Can Liberal Be Used in a Sentence?

The word liberal can be used in many contexts and situations. If you understand liberal’s definition but not how to use it in a sentence, knowing that word is useless. 

Study the example sentences below containing liberal to describe a member of a certain political party. Then, try using this word in a sentence yourself! 

The liberal arts school taught large amounts of new ideas.

The conservative parent worried about the liberal ideas and liberal education his son was getting at the university. What was he learning about John Locke, Adam Smith, laissez-faire capitalism, and slavery?

The Republicans did not like the established opinions and liberal views by Democrats in America.

The left-wing member of a liberal political party favored individual rights more than the right-wing conservative.

He told her to take her 20th-century liberal principles and liberal policy from the United States to somewhere like Canada or Europe, like Germany or Great Britain.

What Is The Origin of Liberal?

Every word has an origin, and many words come from Latin and Greek roots. The word liberal is no exception. Liberal has been used since 14th century Middle English. This word comes from the Old French liberal and the Latin līberālis, meaning generous.

What Are Translations of Liberal?

Liberal can be used as an adjective in many different languages to describe both abundance and people with particular political views. If you do not know how to say the word liberal in your intended language, you can reference the below list of translations.

You may notice that many of these translations of liberal look similar to the word liberal. This is probably because the origins of these translations have the same Latin root. When two words look the same in different languages because they have the same root or language of origin, these are called cognates. Beware of false cognates, and do not assume all words have cognates!

  • Greek: φιλελεύθερος
  • Estonian: liberaalne
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 自由派
  • Urdu: آزاد خیال
  • Croatian: liberalan
  • Malayalam: ഉദാരമായ
  • Portuguese (Portugal): liberal
  • Bengali: উদারক
  • Korean: 선심 쓰는
  • Amharic: ሊብራ
  • Romanian: liberal
  • Ukrainian: ліберальний
  • Danish: liberal
  • Kannada: ಉದಾರ
  • Japanese: リベラル
  • Slovenian: liberalen
  • Serbian: либералан
  • Norwegian: liberal
  • Arabic: ليبرالية
  • Hungarian: liberális
  • Tamil: தாராளமயமாக்கல்
  • Spanish: liberal
  • Italian: liberale
  • Indonesian: liberal
  • Portuguese (Brazil): liberal
  • Chinese (PRC): 自由派
  • Slovak: liberálny
  • Welsh: rhyddfrydol
  • Gujarati: ઉદાર
  • Vietnamese: tự do
  • Latvian: liberāls
  • Swedish: liberal
  • Russian: либеральный
  • Lithuanian: Liberalų
  • Polish: liberał
  • Catalan: liberal
  • German: Liberale
  • Bulgarian: Либерал
  • Icelandic: frjálslyndi
  • Dutch: liberaal
  • Turkish: liberal
  • Swahili: huria.
  • Czech: liberální
  • Hebrew: לִיבֵּרָלִי
  • Thai: เสรีนิยม
  • Marathi: उदारमतवादी
  • Basque: liberal
  • French: libéral
  • Finnish: liberaali
  • Hindi: उदारवादी

What Are Synonyms of the Word Liberal?

Many words have similar meanings to the word liberal and are called synonyms of liberal. Below, many synonyms of liberal are listed from Power Thesaurus, which can be used in place of the word liberal. 

  • abundant
  • advanced
  • altruistic
  • ample
  • beneficent
  • benevolent
  • bighearted
  • bounteous
  • bountiful
  • broad
  • broad-minded
  • charitable
  • considerate
  • copious
  • easygoing
  • enlightened
  • forward-thinking
  • free
  • freehanded
  • generous
  • giving
  • handsome
  • indulgent
  • kind
  • large
  • lavish
  • left
  • leftist
  • lenient
  • libertarian
  • loose
  • magnanimous
  • munificent
  • open
  • open-minded
  • openhanded
  • permissive
  • philanthropic
  • plenteous
  • plentiful
  • prodigal
  • profuse
  • progressive
  • reformist
  • tolerant
  • ungrudging
  • unprejudiced
  • unselfish
  • unsparing
  • unstinting

What Are Antonyms of the Word Liberal?

Power Thesaurus also lists many different words with the opposite meaning of liberal. These antonyms are used for both the political stance of liberalism and the more general usage of the word liberal. 

  • atrocious
  • avaricious
  • biased
  • bigot
  • bigoted
  • book
  • careful
  • cheap
  • chintzy
  • close
  • conservative
  • cruel
  • discriminatory
  • economical
  • frugal
  • grasping
  • greedy
  • hidebound
  • illiberal
  • intolerant
  • lacking
  • little
  • meager
  • mean
  • mercenary
  • mingy
  • miserly
  • moderate
  • narrow
  • narrow-minded
  • one-sided
  • orthodox
  • parsimonious
  • partial
  • partisan
  • poor
  • prejudiced
  • rapacious
  • reactionary
  • restrictive
  • right
  • sectarian
  • self-absorbed
  • selfish
  • shy
  • small
  • sparing
  • standpat
  • stick-in-the-mud
  • stingy
  • thrifty
  • tightfisted
  • traditionalist
  • uncharitable
  • ungenerous
  • wanting


Overall, the adjective liberal can describe people of a left-wing political party or, more generally, as an adjective to describe something generous or free. Often, liberals consider themselves Democrats in American politics. 


  1. Liberal synonyms – 1 996 Words and Phrases for Liberal | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Liberal | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. Liberal antonyms – 1 091 Opposites of Liberal | Power Thesaurus