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See also: illibéral



From Middle French illibéral, from Latin illiberalis.


illiberal (comparative more illiberal, superlative most illiberal)

  1. Restricting or failing to sufficiently promote individual choice and freedom.
    • 2004 December 15, Emanuele Ottolenghi, “Illiberal Europe”, in The Jerusalem Post, →ISSN:
      Behind Europe's commitment to liberal democracy lurks an illiberal tradition. Every time freedom has failed in Europe, it is to that tradition - of violent repression, totalitarianism, xenophobia, and intolerance - that Europeans have reverted.
    • 2005 February 20, “The Risks in Personal Accounts”, in The Washington Post[1], →ISSN, page B06:
      Unless the administration compels all workers to invest in life cycle accounts — an illiberal but nonetheless sensible idea — this particular danger cannot be eliminated.
  2. Narrow-minded; bigoted.
    • 1781, William Robertson, The history of Scotland during the reigns of Queen Mary and of King James IV, volume II, page 141:
      Accordingly, that form of Popery, which prevailed in Scotland, was of the moſt bigotted and illiberal kind.
    • 1894, John Marshall Barker, “The Planting of Colleges in the New World”, in Colleges in America, page 29:
      While they maintained a denominational character, they were in nowise illiberal, and set up no religious test for entrance.
  3. (archaic) Ungenerous, stingy.
    • 1901, Justin McCarthy, Justin Huntly McCarthy, A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, volume IV:
      ...the final offer made on the part of the King was that the Queen should have an allowance of 52,000 pounds a year— not, one would have thought, a very illiberal allowance for the daughter of a small German prince...
    • 1917, Bertrand Russell, “Chapter II: Capitalism and the Wage System”, in Political Ideals:
      The few who are more fortunate are rendered illiberal by their unjust privileges, and oppressive through fear of the awakening indignation of the masses. From the highest to the lowest, almost all men are absorbed in the economic struggle: the struggle to acquire what is their due or to retain what is not their due.
  4. (economics, politics) Not adhering to either liberalism or neoliberalism.
    • 1986, Encounter, volume 66, page 58:
      In the general atmosphere of lawlessness and arbitrariness the final outcome may be less harsh and unpleasant than might at first have been expected — though it can be a lot worse if you are an Albanian "irredentist", for example, or a Croatian "separatist", or if you happen to be undergoing trial and sentence in an illiberal republic like Bosnia or Hercegovina.



Related terms[edit]



illiberal (plural illiberals)

  1. One opposed to liberal principles.
    • 2014, Stuart K. Hayashi, Life in the Market Ecosystem[2]:
      Yes, illiberals argue that Poorman's privation bestows upon him the inalienable right to receive assets (coercively expropriated from Richman). These same illiberals usually claim to believe that all tranquil citizens have equal rights.



  • IPA(key): /ˈɪlibeʁaːl/, /ɪlibeˈʁaːl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aːl


illiberal (strong nominative masculine singular illiberaler, comparative illiberaler, superlative am illiberalsten)

  1. illiberal


Further reading[edit]

  • illiberal” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • illiberal” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon