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  1. the quality or state of being liberal, as in behavior or attitude.
  2. a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.
  3. (sometimes initial capital letter) the principles and practices of a liberal party in politics.
  4. a movement in modern Protestantism that emphasizes freedom from tradition and authority, the adjustment of religious beliefs to scientific conceptions, and the development of spiritual capacities.


  1. liberal opinions, practices, or politics
  2. a movement in modern Protestantism that rejects biblical authority

n.1819, from liberal + -ism. In the twentieth century, a viewpoint or ideology associated with free political institutions and religious toleration, as well as support for a strong role of government in regulating capitalism and constructing the welfare state (see also welfare state).

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