Freedom vs. Liberty: What's in a name?

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Difference between Freedom and Liberty

For most people, “freedom” and "liberty" mean one and the same thing. While it is true that both terms stand for similar ideals, there are subtle differences between them that warrant a comparison. This comparison article therefore attempts to clue you in to some of the more telling differences between each.


Dictionary Definition

Freedom is defined variously as the quality or state of being free, or the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in making a choice or executing an action. The term may also refer to the state of liberation from slavery or the power of another person or organization or entity. Still other sources define freedom as the state of being released usually from a burdensome force. Freedom may also be defined as the state of being open or outspoken. As for liberty, the most common definition is that it is a state of being free to do as one pleases. Some sources would also define it as being unrestricted, physically or mentally. A more academic definition would encompass being free from arbitrary or tyrannical control. This is the definition most often used in the context of social, political, or economic situations. Finally, a more basic definition of liberty is that state of being able to make a choice.

Modern Definition

Even given the clearly delineated definitions of freedom and liberty, variances still exist and in fact continue to come up to this day. While most people are in agreement about the dictionary definitions of both terms, more modern usages define liberty as a "natural" right that is due to everyone on earth. It is therefore often seen as a God given right, and this outs it in contrast with freedom, which is more appropriately defined as the absence of outside pressure. Of course, some would argue that freedom must be earned, and that a conscious and sustained effort must be made to protect it. In contrast, liberty is simply assumed as a given right regardless of external circumstances.

As They Relate To Inalienable Rights

Freedom and liberty may actually be viewed as natural or inalienable rights that may not be deprived or given away from or by a person, at least without moral or ethical issues coming into consideration. The act of depriving anyone of such privileges is universally viewed as aggressive and against reason. The premise of this idea is that we are all granted free will by nature, and that no one can take that away from anyone else. This is particularly important when it comes to reading and interpreting the U.S. Constitution and ensuring that freedom and liberty are not stripped of her citizens by greedy and compromised politicians and business leaders.



  • Defined as the quality or state of being free
  • Also defined as being frank or outspoken
  • Sometimes defined as the absence of coercion or constraint
  • Can be said to protect and allow liberty
  • Considered a natural or inalienable right


  • Defined as the quality or state of being free
  • May be defined as the power to do as one pleases
  • Considered a natural or inalienable right

Which inalienable right is most corroded in the U.S.?
  • Freedom
  • Liberty

Discuss It: comments 2

posted to: FREEDOM is NOT Liberty From a linguistic, definitional and etymological perspective, these two words do not have the same meaning. I assert that in fact, FREEDOM is a fabricated imposter for Liberty. The founders of the United States understood this critical difference. This is why Liberty is the word used in the Declaration of Independence. Below is a comparison between the two words. This example, while not fully documented here, provides substantial and sound assertions. This comes after years of study in linguistics, etymology and history, as well as being a scholar and speaker of several languages. FREEDOM -------------- This word has two roots: FREE and DOM. In order to fully understand it's meaning it is necessary to examine it's roots. FREE means that which is unrestrained. This sounds pretty good. Most everybody would agree that they want to choose for themselves. DOM means to control or dominate. FREEDOM linguistically and etymologically means: "Control/Domination over those who claim to be free" When you see a bumper sticker that says: "Freedom is not Free", they are 100% correct. Freedom is not FREE, it is not LIBERTY it is a 'word-game' meaning bondage. Plese look up the meanings of the term 'DOM' in the dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary and it's historic usage and etymological meaning. You will always find this word related to CONTROL and DOMINATION. Those who act irresponsibly and without restraint exercising their inherent powers without regard to causing harm, must be controlled and dominted by definition of the LAW. FREEDOM is like a blank check saying: "do whatever you want, hurt whoever you want, but we will execute judement upon you for your harmful actions" It is extremely important to realize that those who are FREE, and have LIBERTY must live by the golden rule or they are instantly 'transformed' (X-FORMED, "x marks the spot") into those who are subject to 'FREEDOM'. LIBERTY ----------------- Contrary to many studies on the historic meaning of this word, the true root meaning originates in: LIBE in indo-european (aka: germanic languages, the 'mother tongue') LIBE means LOVE or that which one loves. Also LIBE refers to LEBEN which mean LIFE. Therefore Liberty means LOVE and LIFE. These word/meanings are fundamental connected meanings of LIBERTY. The writers of the declaration of Independence understand this that is why they did not use the "false" substitute-word 'FREEDOM' which truly is an imposter. I want this information to be of benefit to my brothers and sisters on this planet. If you read this, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE spread the word. Love you all... Wishing you all happiness and joy.... :)

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  • annie wrote on December 2016

Thank you! I am choosing winning essays from 5th graders, and inevitably they all use the word "freedom" which I know is not accurate. Liberty is exactly what I thought it should be, but needed a good comparative definition. Yours is outstanding. Now to explain this? That said, the term "democracy" is used. While I know our Republic has been reduced to this, I do want historical accuracy. Liberty has had a few more definitions I have come across, book and library being connected to it. Again Thanks for clarifying.

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