Dear Friends,

From earlier discussions I know a lot about the relation between freedom vs. liberty; I still have two questions, though:

1. The dictionaries I use consider 'freedom' to be more general than 'liberty'. They fail, however, to explicate in what sense.
2. Somewhere I have heard that one of them (not sure which one) implies a state which is won by force, while the other is innate. Is that true?

Thanks a lot.

1 2
There's been so much written about these concepts you'll have a hard time pinning them down. They're often used interchangeably. When you look in most dictionaries you'll probably see several useages listed for both of them.

The "won by force" useage falls more often to "freedom" than to liberty. The "inate" useage falls more often to liberty.

People who feel passionately about the concepts also tend to feel passionately about the definitions. Jefferson lists liberty as a God-given right in the US Declaration of Independence. But that doesn't mean it can't be taken away and won back by force.

I agree with you that a claim that one term is more general than the other is useless without specifics.

- A.
Thank you very much for your help, Avangi!


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Dear Palinkasocsi,
In a great deal of contemporary English writing, the two terms are used synonymously -- the writer doesn't necessarily distinguish an apparent difference between the two terms. Even dictionary definitions, as you noted, overlap considerably. However, correctly or incorrectly, I believe that there is a difference between the two terms, but that distinction doesn't lie on the fault line you propose. As an alternative, please consider the following example:
In the 1860's southern U.S. states, slaves were given their freedom (no longer bound to servitude). With that 'right' restored, some former slaves took advantage of their new liberty and headed West to live as they chose.
In this context, I consider 'freedom' to be more fundamental and should be considered a 'right', however it was controlled by humans and imposed on others. 'Liberty' in this case required freedom as an essential prerequisite, but could have been limited by things there not inflicted by others, such as the physical condition and age of the West-bound former slave.
I don't know if this distinction is shared by others, but it is one that I have adopted.
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.


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'.


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.


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


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.... Emotion: smile
AnonymousFrom 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.
Freedom had been used in English for hundreds of years before the French-derived liberty made its way into English in the late 14th century. The -dom suffix has nothing to do with domination in this context even though it is true that in earlier days it had something to do with doom:

a suffix forming nouns which refer to domain (kingdom), collection of persons (officialdom), rank or station (earldom), or general condition (freedom).
[ME; OE -dom; c. ON -domr, G -tum; see DOOM]

No one thinks of "doom" when they hear or see words like freedom these days. This is understandable. The meanings of words change over time. After all, no one thinks of causing anything to anyone when they say: Do you speak English? One of the meanings of do was "to cause" 1400 years ago, about 700 or 800 years before people inexplicably and incorrectly started using it in questions.

Nowadays a common difference between liberty and freedom is that freedom often has more warm feeling to it than the less emotive and cold liberty. However, this isn't always so and usage often overlaps as someone has wisely said in this thread.

It is quite common for a French-derived word to be less emotive than an Anglo-Saxon word. The pairs of words don't always necessarily have exactly the same meanings.

house manor, palace
hearty cordial
holy saint
folk people

There were about 5,000 words in Old English. The huge numbers of loan words account for the large vocabulary of English, and in many cases usage is strictly limited to certain contexts.

his kingly appearance (Anglo-Saxon word. There is a Finnish (!) word that is etymologically related to kingly: kuningas (a king).)

his regal duties (From Latin regalis)

the royal family (From French roi)

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That's way off!

Liberty comes from the Latin word libertas, which means “unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.” Libertas even contains the idea of being separate and independent.

The English word Freedom can trace its roots to the Germanic or Norse word Frei, describing someone who belongs to a tribe and has the rights and protections that go with belonging. Besides freedom the root frei becomes the English word friend.

To have liberty is to be unencumbered.

To have freedom is to have the aggregate benefits and protections provided by society.

As citizens we give up some of our liberty in exchange for freedom. This is the social contract. It allows us to enjoy our liberty far more than we otherwise could. (Being unencumbered isn’t much fun in a lawless place like Sudan)

Freedom is given by society to its constituents. For example, our society provides medicine, education and rule of law (among many other things). Any one of these would be far less valuable without any other. Therefore the aggregate is more than the sum of its part, so the word “freedom” has its own unique meaning.

There is no other word for this concept, and by forgetting the meaning of “freedom” we have lost some of our appreciation that which unites us.
AnonymousThat's way off!Liberty comes from the Latin word libertas, which means “unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.”
It came from the Latin word to French. When liberty entered the English language in the 14th century, the vulgar form of Latin that had been spoken in what is today called France was no longer called Latin. The language was called French. The French - or the Normans, as many English people prefer to call them - invaded England in 1066 after the Battle of Hastings and ruled it for about 300 years.

These people constituted the upper social classes in England and they spoke French, not Latin. It was from the language of the ruling French that liberty came into the English language in the 14th century. That's why it is termed a French loan word in English even though its known origins are in Latin.

In fact, as Latin wasn't the first language in the world, it is highly probable that the origin of this particular word goes even further back in history. It may have been borrowed into Latin from another language. We just don't know enough about the etymology of most words as we can't trace their roots beyond Latin.

Say there is a man on a desert island. Because there is no societal or governmental regulations pushed on him, he is at absolute liberty. Liberty is something that is granted, or, as you put it, "won by force" for the people in common from society and authority. However, freedom is a self-granted, innate possession. The man is only as free as he believes he is, or as he lets himself be. If he convinces himself that the indigenous plants are poisonous, he himself is no longer free to eat them, because he does not want to die. This freedom is not due to the actual poisonous of the plants, but due to what he perceives himself willing and allowed to do by nothing but himself. ACtually, in history, a "free dom" was a family that was not under the control of any but their own, existing completely outside state powers with complete autonomy, answering to nothing else their selves.
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