Legal Definition and Related Resources of Liberty

Meaning of Liberty

Freedom. Freedom from restraint, but under conditions regulated by law; freedom from extraneous control . Also used to denote a franchise or perÂsonal privilege ; formerly, it denoted a right and the place where such right may be exercised.

Liberty Alternative Definition

(Lat. Uier, free; Kbertas, freedom, liberty). Freedom from restraint; the faculty of willing, and the power of doing what has been willed, without influence from without. As used in the constitution means not only freedom of the citizen from servitude and restraint, but embraces the right of every man to be’ free in the use of his powers and faculties, and to adopt and pursue such calling as he may choose, subject only to the restraints necessary to secure the common welfare. 231 111. 346; 193 lU. 345; 185 111. 139; 161 111. 296; 217 111. 248; 155 Mass. 117; 109 N. Y. 389; 16 Wall. 36; 113 Pa. St. 431; 33 W. Va. 179. A privilege held by grant or prescription, by which some men enjoy greater privileges, than ordinary subjects. A territory with some extraordinary privilege. A part of a town or city; as, the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia. See “Faubourg.” ‘ Civil liberty is the greatest amount of absolute liberty which can, in the nature of things, be equally possessed by every citizen in a state. The term is frequently used to denote the amount of absolute liberty which is actually enjoyed by the various citizens under the government and laws of the state as administered. 1 Bl. Comm. 125. The fullest political liberty furnishes the best possible guaranty for civil liberty. Lieber defines civil liberty as guaranteed protection against interference with the interests and rights held dear and important by large classes of civilized men, or by all the members of a state, together with an effectual share in the making and administration of the laws, as the best apparatus to secure that protection, including Blackstone’s divisions of civil and political under this head. Natural liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner tibey judge most consonant to their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and so as not to interfere with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men. Burlam. Nat. Law, c. 3, § 15; 1 Bl. Comm. 125. It is called by Lieber “social” liberty, and is defined as the protection of unrestrained action in as high a degree as the same claim of protection of each individual admits of. Personal liberty consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or removing one’s person to whatever place one’s inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law. 1 Bl. Comm. 134. Political liberty is an effectual share in the making and administration of the laws. Lieber, Civ. Lib. Liberty, in its widest sense, means the faculty of willing, and the power of doing what has been willed, without influence from without. It means self-determination, unrestrainedness of action. Thus defined, one being only can be absolutely free, namely, God. So soon as we apply the word “liberty” to spheres of human action, the term receives a relative meaning, because the power of man is limited; he is subject to constant influences from without. If the idea of unrestrainedness of action is applied to the social state of man, it receives a limitation still greater, since the equal claims of unrestrained action of all necessarily involves the idea of protection against interference by others. We thus come to the definition, that liberty of social man consists in the protection of unrestrained action in as high a degree as the same claim of protection of each individual admits of, or in the most efficient protection of his rights, claims, interests, as man or citizen, or of his humanity, manifested as a social being. See “Right.” The word “liberty,” applied to men in their political state, may be viewed with reference to the state as a whole, and in this case means the independence of the state, of other states; or it may have reference to the relation of the citizen to the government, in which case it is called “political” or “civil” liberty; or it may have reference to the status of a man as a political being, contradistinguished from him who is not considered master over his body, will, or labor, the slave. This is called “personal” liberty, which, as a matter of course, includes freedom from prison.

Synonyms of Liberty


  • absence of foreign rule
  • absence of restraint
  • absence of servitude
  • affranchisement
  • autonomy
  • choice
  • clearance
  • deliverance
  • emancipation
  • enfranchisement
  • exemption from control
  • exemption from external control
  • exemption from restraint
  • franchise
  • free will
  • freedom
  • freedom from captivity
  • freedom of action
  • freedom of choice
  • grant
  • independence
  • latitude
  • leave
  • liber
  • liberation from foreign restraint
  • libertas
  • license
  • licentia
  • noninterference
  • permission
  • political independence
  • power of choice
  • power to choose
  • prerogative
  • privilege
  • right
  • right of choice
  • sanction
  • selfdetermination
  • selfdirection
  • selfgovernment
  • unconstraint
  • uninhibitedness
  • Associated Concepts: abuse of liberty
  • civil liberty
  • deprivation of liberty
  • individual liberties
  • liberty of contract
  • liberty of free press
  • liberty of speech
  • personal liberty
  • political liberty
  • religious liberty foreign phrases: Favorabilia in lege suntfiscus
  • dos
  • vita
  • libertas
  • Favorites of the law are the treasury
  • dower
  • life
  • and liberty
  • Libertas inaestimabilis res est
  • Libeny is a thing of inestimable value
  • Libertas est naturalis facultas ejus quod
  • cuique facere libet
  • nisi quod de jure aut vi prohibetur
  • Liberty is a person’s natural power which permits one to do as he pleases
  • Libertas non recipit aestimationem
  • Freedom does not admit a valuation

Related Entries of Liberty in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Liberty in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Liberty in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Liberty in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Liberty in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

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Mentioned in these terms

Alien, Arrest, , Custody, Enfranchise, Escape, False Arrest, Habeas Corpus, Imprisonment, Insurance, Joint Enterprise, Magna Carta, Natural Rights, Permission, Power Of Appointment, Precedent, Presumption, Quo Warranto, Ratification, Restrain, Right, Right Of Privacy, Status.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Liberty in the Dictionary Liberty in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Liberty
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Liberty in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Liberty is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Liberty (more about URIs)

Liberty in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

Latin libertas: liber, free. The condition of a freeman; freedom from restraint; freedom.

Note: This legal definition of Liberty in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Liberty

(You may find liberty at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

late 14c., “free choice, freedom to do as one chooses,” also “freedom from the bondage of sin,” from Old French liberte “freedom, liberty, free will” (14c., Modern French liberté), from Latin libertatem (nominative libertas) “civil or political freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission,” from liber “free” (see liberal (adj.)). At first of persons; of communities, “state of being free from arbitrary, despotic, or autocratic rule or control” is from late 15c. The French notion of liberty is political equality; the English notion is personal independence. [William R. Greg, “France in January 1852” in “Miscellaneous Essays”] Nautical sense of “leave of absence” is from 1758. Meaning “unrestrained action, conduct, or expression” (1550s) led to take liberties “go beyond the bounds of propriety” (1620s). Sense of “privileges by grant” (14c.) led to sense of “a person’s private land” (mid-15c.), within which certain special privileges may be exercised, which yielded in 18c. in both England and America a sense 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” (as in Northern Liberties of Philadelphia). Also compare Old French libertés “local rights, laws, taxes.” Liberty-cap is from 1803; the American Revolutionary liberty-pole, “tall flagstaff set up in honor of liberty and often surmounted by a liberty-cap” is from 1775. Liberty-cabbage was a World War I U.S. jingoistic euphemism for sauerkraut.

Definition of Liberty

In relation to social issues, a meaning of liberty is provided here: includes the freedom to believe what you want, freedom to choose your own friends, and to have your own ideas and opinions, to express your ideas in public, the right for people to meet in groups, and the right to have any lawful job or business.



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