- liberal (n.)
- 1820, "member of the progressive and reformist political party of Great Britain, an anti-Whig," from liberal (adj.). General meaning "person of liberal political principles or tendencies" (without reference to party) is by 1832; in reference to persons of a political ideology not conservative or fascist but short of socialism, from c. 1920. Also used from early 20c. of ministers from less-dogmatic Christian churches.
Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
- liberal arts (n.)
- late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the name for the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, rather than immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical). They were divided into the trivium -- grammar, logic, rhetoric (see trivial) -- and the quadrivium -- arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy. Explained by Fowler (1926) as "the education designed for a gentleman (Latin liber a free man) & ... opposed on the one hand to technical or professional or any special training, & on the other to education that stops short before manhood is reached."
The study of [the classics] is fitly called a liberal education, because it emancipates the mind from every narrow provincialism, whether of egoism or tradition, and is the apprenticeship that every one must serve before becoming a free brother of the guild which the torch of life from age to age. [James Russell Lowell, "Among my Books"]
- liberalisation (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of liberalization; for spelling, see -ize.
- liberalism (n.)
- "liberal principles," especially the political principles of a liberal party, 1819, from liberal (adj.) in the political sense + -ism.
- liberality (n.)
- mid-14c., "generosity," from Old French liberalité "generosity, liberality" (13c.), from Latin liberalitatem (nominative liberalitas) "way of thinking or acting befitting a free man, frankness, affability," noun of quality from liberalis "noble, gracious; free" (see liberal (adj.)).
- liberalization (n.)
- 1794, noun of action from liberalize.
- liberalize (v.)
- also liberalise, "to render (more) liberal," 1774, from liberal (adj.) + -ize. Related: Liberalized; liberalizing.
- liberally (adv.)
- late 14c., "generously, munificently," from liberal (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "freely" is c. 1500.
- liberate (v.)
- "set free, release from restraint or bondage," 1620s, from Latin liberatus, past participle of liberare "to set free" (source also of Spanish librar, French livrer), from liber "free, not a slave, unrestricted" (see liberal (adj.)). Meaning "to free an occupied territory from the enemy" (often used ironically) is from 1942; hence the World War II slang sense "to loot." Related: Liberated; liberating.
- liberation (n.)
- "act of setting free from restraint or confinement," early 15c., from Middle French libération and directly from Latin liberationem (nominative liberatio) "a setting or becoming free," noun of action from past participle stem of liberare "to set free," from liber "free" (see liberal (adj.)).
Liberation theology (1969) translates Spanish teologia de la liberación, coined 1968 by Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928). In late 19c. British history, liberationism, liberationist are in reference to the movement to disestablish the Church, from the Liberation Society, devoted to the freeing of religion from state patronage and control.
- liberator (n.)
- 1640s, from Latin liberator "one who sets free, a deliverer" (source also of French libérateur, Spanish liberador, Italian liberatore), agent noun from past participle stem of liberare "to set free" (see liberate).
- African nation, begun as a resettlement project of freed American slaves in 1822 by the American Colonization Society (founded for that purpose in 1816), launched as a free republic in 1847; the name was chosen by society member and U.S. senator Robert Goodloe Harper (1765-1825) from Latin liber "free" (see liberal (adj.)) + -ia. Related: Liberian, but this also can mean "pertaining to Pope Liberius" (352-66).
- libertarian (n.)
- 1789, "one who holds the doctrine of free will" (especially in extreme forms; opposed to necessitarian), from liberty (q.v.) on model of unitarian, etc. Political sense of "person advocating the greatest possible liberty in thought and conduct" is from 1878. As an adjective by 1882. U.S. Libertarian Party founded in Colorado, 1971. Related: Libertarianism (1849 in religion, 1901 in politics).
- liberticide (n.)
- 1793, "a destroyer of liberty," from liberty + -cide. From 1819 as "the destruction of liberty."
- libertine (n.)
- late 14c., "a freedman, an emancipated slave," from Latin libertinus "condition of a freedman; member of a class of freedmen," from libertus "one's freedmen, emancipated person," from liber "free" (see liberal (adj.)).
Sense of "freethinker" is first recorded 1560s, from French libertin (1540s) originally the name given to certain pantheistic Protestant sects in France and the Low Countries. This sense partakes more of liberty and liberal than of the classical meaning (in Old French, libertin meant "Saracen slave converted to Christianity"). Meaning "dissolute or licentious person, man given to indulgence of lust" is first recorded 1590s; the darkening of meaning being perhaps due to misunderstanding of Latin libertinus in Acts vi:9. For "condition of being a libertine" 17c English tried libertinage; libertinism (from French libertinisme).
- libertine (adj.)
- 1570s, "free, unrestrained," originally in religion, from libertine (adj.). Meaning "licentious, dissolute" is from c. 1600.
- liberty (n.)
- 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.
- libidinal (adj.)
- in psychology jargon, 1922, in a translation of Freud, from comb. form of libido (Latin genitive libidinis) + -al (1).
- libidinous (adj.)
- "lustful," mid-15c., from Old French libidineus "sinful, lusty" (13c., Modern French libidineux) or directly from Latin libidinosus "full of desire, lustful," from libido "pleasure, desire, sensual passion, lust" (see libido). Related: Libidinously; libidinousness; libidinosity. These are older in English than libido, libidinal, which are from modern psychology.
- libido (n.)
- "psychic drive or energy, usually associated with sexual instinct," 1892, carried over untranslated in English edition of Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis"; and used in 1909 in A.A. Brill's translation of Freud's "Selected Papers on Hysteria" (Freud's use of the term led to its popularity); from Latin libido, lubido "desire, eagerness, longing; inordinate desire, sensual passion, lust," from libere "to be pleasing, to please," ultimately cognate with Old English lufu (see love (n.)).
- Libra (n.)
- zodiac constellation represented by a pair of scales, late Old English, from Latin libra "a balance, pair of scales," also "pound (unit of weight)," from Proto-Italic *leithra- "pound." De Vaan compares Greek litra "name of a Sicilian coin," which "was probably borrowed from an Italic language at the stage containing [-thr-]."
Not a separate constellation in ancient Greece, where it was khelae, "the claws" of adjacent Scorpio. Nativized in Old Norse as skala-merki. Meaning "person born under the sign of Libra" is from 1894. Related: Libral; Libran.
- librarian (n.)
- "custodian of a library," 1713; see library + -an. Earlier form was library-keeper (1640s), and librarian had been used in the sense "scribe, one who copies books" (1660s).
- library (n.)
- place for books, late 14c., from Anglo-French librarie, Old French librairie, librarie "collection of books; bookseller's shop" (14c.), from Latin librarium "book-case, chest for books," and libraria "a bookseller's shop," in Medieval Latin "a library," noun uses of the neuter and fem., respectively, of librarius "concerning books," from Latin librarium "chest for books," from liber (genitive libri) "book, paper, parchment."
Latin liber (from Proto-Italic *lufro-) was originally "the inner bark of trees," and perhaps is from PIE *lubh-ro- "leaf, rind," a derivative of the PIE root *leub(h)- "to strip, to peel" (see leaf (n.)). Comparing Albanian labë "rind, cork;" Lithuanian luobas "bast," Latvian luobas "peel," Russian lub "bast," de Vaan writes that, "for want of a better alternative, we may surmise that liber is cognate with *lubh- and goes back to a PIE word or a European word 'leaf, rind.'"
The equivalent word in most Romance languages survives only in the sense "bookseller's shop" (French libraire, Italian libraria). Old English had bochord, literally "book hoard." As an adjective, Blount (1656) has librarious.
- libre (adj.)
- "free," a French word used in various combinations in English since 16c., from French libre, from Latin liber "free" (see liberal (adj.)).
- libretto (n.)
- plural libretti, "book containing the words of an extended musical composition," also the words themselves, 1742, from Italian libretto, diminutive of libro "book," from Latin liber (genitive libri) "book" (see library). Related: Librettist (1862).
- libricide (n.)
- "the killing of books," 1856, from Latin liber (genitive libri) "book" (see library) + -cide.
- ancient name for the northern part of Africa west of Egypt, attested in heiroglyphics from 2000 B.C.E., of unknown origin. In Greek use, sometimes meaning all of Africa. The modern nation acquired the name in 1934, when Italy, which then held it as a colony, revived the name as that of the colony, which became formally independent in 1951. Related: Libyan (adj. and n., both c. 1600), earlier as an adjective Lybic (1540s); as a noun, for the inhabitants and the country, Middle English had Libie. Comb. form Libyo-.
- licence (n.)
- mid-14c., "liberty (to do something), leave," from Old French licence "freedom, liberty, power, possibility; permission," (12c.), from Latin licentia "freedom, liberty, license," from licentem (nominative licens), present participle of licere "to be allowed, be lawful," from PIE root *leik- "to offer, bargain" (source also of Lettish likstu "I come to terms"). Meaning "formal (usually written) permission from authority to do something" (marry, hunt, drive, etc.) is first attested early 15c. Meaning "excessive liberty, disregard of propriety" is from mid-15c. There have been attempts to confine license to verbal use and licence to noun use (compare advise/advice, devise/device.
- licence (v.)
- c. 1400, "grant formal authorization," from license (n.). Related: Licenced; Licencing.
- see licence. Related: Licensed; licensing.
- licensee (n.)
- 1837, from license + -ee.
- licensure (n.)
- 1808, from license + -ure.
- licentious (adj.)
- "morally unrestrained," 1530s, from Medieval Latin licentiosus "full of license, unrestrained," from Latin licentia (see license (n.)). Related: Licentiously; licentiousness.
- lich (n.)
- also litch, lych, "body, corpse," southern England dialectal survival of Old English lic "body, dead body, corpse," cognate with Old Frisian lik, Dutch lijk, Old High German lih, German leiche "dead body," Old Norse lik, Danish lig, Gothic leik, from Proto-Germanic *likow. Compare litch-gate "roofed gate to a churchyard under which a bier is placed to await the coming of the clergyman."
- lichen (n.)
- c. 1600, from Latin lichen, from Greek leichen, originally "what eats around itself," probably from leichein "to lick" (see lick). Originally used of liverwort; the modern sense first recorded 1715. Related: Lichenaceous.
- Licitfelda (c.710) "Open Land near Letocetum" (Celtic place name meaning "gray wood") + Old English feld.
- licit (adj.)
- late 15c., from Middle French licite or directly from Latin licitus "lawful," past participle of licere "be allowed, be lawful" (see licence (n.)). Related: Licitly; licitness.
- lick (v.1)
- Old English liccian "to pass the tongue over the surface, lap, lick up," from Proto-Germanic *likkon (source also of Old Saxon likkon, Dutch likken, Old High German lecchon, German lecken, Gothic bi-laigon), from PIE imitative base *leigh- (source also of Sanskrit ledhi "he licks," Armenian lizum "I lick," Greek leikhein "to lick," Latin lingere "to lick," Old Irish ligim "I lick," Welsh llwy "spoon"). French lécher is a Germanic loan word.
To lick (someone or something) into shape (1610s) is in reference to the supposed ways of bears:
Beres ben brought forthe al fowle and transformyd and after that by lyckyng of the fader and the moder they ben brought in to theyr kyndely shap. ["The Pylgremage of the Sowle," 1413]
- lick (n.)
- "an act of licking," c. 1600, from lick (v.1). Meaning "small portion" is 1814, originally Scottish; hence U.S. colloquial sense. Sense of "place where an animal goes to lick salt" is from 1747. The jazz music sense of "short figure or solo" is by 1922.
- lick (v.2)
- "to beat," 1535, perhaps from figurative use of lick (v.1) in the Coverdale bible that year in sense of "defeat, annihilate" (an enemy's forces) in Num. xxii:4:
Now shal this heape licke up all that is about vs, euen as an oxe licketh vp the grasse in the field.But to lick (of) the whip "taste punishment" is attested from mid-15c.
- lickerish (adj.)
- "fond of delicious fare," c. 1500, from Middle English likerous "pleasing to the palate" (late 13c.), from Anglo-French *likerous, Old French licherous (see lecherous). Unlike the French word, it generally kept close to its literal sense.
- lickety-split (adj.)
- 1852, American English (earlier lickety-cut, lickety-click, and simply licketie, 1817), from lick (n.1) in dialectal sense "very fast sprint in a race" (1809) on the notion of a "lick" as a fast thing (compare blink).
- licking (n.)
- "an act of licking or lapping," late 14c., from present participle of lick (v.1); meaning "a beating" is 1756, from lick (v.2).
- lickspittle (n.)
- also lick-spittle, "sycophant, abject toady," 1741, from lick (v.1) + spittle.
- licorice (n.)
- also liquorice, c. 1200, from Anglo-French lycoryc, Old French licorece (also recolice), from Late Latin liquiritia, alteration of Latin glychyrrhiza, from Greek glykyrrhiza, literally "sweet root," from glykys "sweet" (see gluco-) + rhiza "root" (see radish); form influenced in Latin by liquere "become fluid," because of the method of extracting the sweet stuff from the root. French réglisse, Italian regolizia are the same word, with metathesis of -l- and -r-.
- lictor (n.)
- late 14c., from Latin lictor, literally "binder," from past participle stem of *ligere "to bind, collect," collateral form of ligare (see ligament).
- lid (n.)
- mid-13c., from Old English hlid "lid, cover, opening, gate," from Proto-Germanic *khlithan (source also of Old Norse hlið "gate, gap," Swedish lid "gate," Old French hlid, Middle Dutch lit, Dutch lid, Old High German hlit "lid, cover"), from PIE root *klei- "to lean" (see lean (v.)), with here perhaps the sense of "that which bends over." Meaning "eyelid" is from early 13c. Slang sense of "hat, cap" is attested from 1896. Slang phrase put a lid on "clamp down on, silence, end" is from 1906.
- famous resort island off Venice, from Italian lido, from Latin litus "shore."
- lie (v.1)
- "speak falsely, tell an untruth," late 12c., from Old English legan, ligan, earlier leogan "deceive, belie, betray" (class II strong verb; past tense leag, past participle logen), from Proto-Germanic *leugan (source also of Old Norse ljuga, Danish lyve, Old Frisian liaga, Old Saxon and Old High German liogan, German lügen, Gothic liugan), from PIE root *leugh- "to tell a lie."
- lie (v.2)
- "rest horizontally," early 12c., from Old English licgan (class V strong verb; past tense læg, past participle legen) "be situated, remain; be at rest, lie down," from Proto-Germanic *legjan (source also of Old Norse liggja, Old Frisian lidzia, Middle Dutch ligghen, Dutch liggen, Old High German ligen, German liegen, Gothic ligan), from PIE *legh- "to lie, lay" (source also of Hittite laggari "falls, lies," Greek lekhesthai "to lie down," Latin lectus "bed," Old Church Slavonic lego "to lie down," Lithuanian at-lagai "fallow land," Old Irish laigim "I lie down," Irish luighe "couch, grave"). To lie with "have sexual intercourse" is from c. 1300, and compare Old English licgan mid "cohabit with." To take (something) lying down "passively, submissively" is from 1854.