n. pl. lib·er·tiesIdioms:
1. The condition of being free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
a. The condition of being free from oppressive restriction or control by a government or other power.
b. A right to engage in certain actions without control or interference by a government or other power: the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.
3. The right or power to act as one chooses: "Her upcountry isolation ... gave her the liberty to be what she wanted to be, free of the pressure of spotlights and literary fashions" (Lucinda Franks).
4. often liberties A deliberate departure from what is proper, accepted, or prudent, especially:
a. A breach or overstepping of propriety or social convention: "I'd leave her with a little kiss on the cheek—I never took liberties" (Harold Pinter).
b. A departure from strict compliance: took several liberties with the recipe.
c. A deviation from accepted truth or known fact: a historical novel that takes liberties with chronology.
d. An unwarranted risk; a chance: took foolish liberties on the ski slopes.
5. A period, usually short, during which a sailor is authorized to go ashore.
1. Not in confinement or under constraint; free.
2. Entitled or permitted to do something: We found ourselves at liberty to explore the grounds.
take the liberty
To dare (to do something) on one's own initiative or without asking permission: I took the liberty to send you these pictures of my vacation.
[Middle English liberte, from Old French, from Latin lībertās, from līber, free; see leudh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus