Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Liberty and Freedom

Liberty vs Freedom

Both Liberty and Freedom are synonyms. The term “liberty” is a form of “freedom.” Since both of these terms may mean the same thing, and one can be used in place of the other. Sometimes it can get confusing, and people find it hard to decide which word to use as in the case of the words “freedom” and “liberty”.

“Liberty” is defined as “the right and the power to believe, act, and express oneself as one chooses, of being free from restriction, and having the freedom of choice. It is the condition of having the power to act and speak without restraints.”

Liberty is the condition wherein individuals behave according to their will and govern themselves, taking responsibility for their actions and behaviors. Having liberty does not necessarily mean going against ethics and moral values. It is classified into: positive liberty wherein individuals act on their own will without being influenced by social restrictions and taboos, and negative liberty wherein individuals act without being influenced or coerced by other people.

The word “liberty” comes from the Latin word “libertatem” which means “freedom” or “condition of a freeman.” It came into the English language through the Old French word “liberte” which means “freedom.”

“Freedom,” on the other hand, is defined as “the state of being free to enjoy political, social, and civil liberties. It is the power to decide one’s actions, and the state of being free from restraints or confinement. It is synonymous to the words liberty, privilege, deliverance, and independence.”

It is also referred to as “free will.” The ability of each individual to make choices that are free from coercion or restriction. Even if an individual has free will or freedom, he is still bound to conform to religious and ethical doctrines because he is accountable for all his actions.

Freedom is enjoyed by all individuals except those who are in prison. People who have been coerced into doing something because they have conflicting ideas about it, although it is what they themselves desired to do, are also said to have exercised their freedom.

The word “freedom” comes from the Old English word “freodom” which means “state of free will, charter, or deliverance.” It in turn came from the Indo-European word “priyos” which means “dear” or “one’s own.” The word “freedom” is more concrete than the word “liberty” which is more associated with the notion of liberty in connection with the state. Freedom usually pertains to a person’s choices in everything that he does.


  •  Both Liberty and Freedom are synonyms. The term “liberty” is a form of “freedom.” The term ‘Liberty’  relies heavily on implication of responsibility and duty, and attachment to a greater whole society or philosophical belief system. In contrast, freedom means the raw ability to act and do as one wills.
  • In other words “Liberty” is the power to act and express oneself according to one’s will while “freedom” is the power to decide one’s actions.
  • “Freedom” is a more concrete concept than “liberty”.
  • “Liberty” comes from the Latin word “libertatem” which means “condition of a freeman” while “freedom” comes from the English word “freodom” which means “state of free will.”

Sharing is caring!

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. 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.

    • Give up liberty in exchange for freedom?
      Where in the world did you get that absurd notion?

      The difference between these two synonymous words is etymology. Freedom has a Germanic root and liberty has a Romance root. The words are often used in some contexts and not others, but this a cultural characteristic and not mainstream enough that you can make the affirmative claims you’ve been making.

      • Um… I think Stuart is much closer to the mark than you are, Pete! (I have studied politics at Oxford, so am not entirely ignorant in this field.)

        It is utterly ridiculous to claim “The difference between these two synonymous words is [simply] etymology.” “Freedom” and “liberty” are not precise synonyms.

        The English language actually has extremely few true synonyms (the statement at the beginning of this piece, “There are too many words in the English language. In fact, two or more words may mean the same thing, and one can be used in place of the other” is ludicrous and speaks more to the lack of fluency by the author).

        The reason for the multitude shades of grey in the English language is etymology across the Middle Ages: originally the tension between Old English and Old Norse which were closely related and had many apparent synonyms, and then subsequently between English and French. But unusually, the result is that pairs of words that originally had identical meanings have become subtly differentiated. The distinctions are much stronger in Queen’s English than American English: throughout the Commonwealth, for example, “enquiry” and “inquiry” have subtly different meanings, although they derive from the same word and in the US they are treated as synonymous. Similarly “liberty” and “freedom” have become distinct concepts.

        Pete: I suggest you read the essays of John Stuart Mill, the 19th Century author of liberalism in political philosophy, in particular his essay “On Liberty”. For that matter read Hobbes’ Leviathan, which has been around since the 17th Century. These are not only “mainstream” but canonical.

        • Scruff
          Ah, appeal to expertise. That always makes an argument stronger. As does the ad hominem. Why not climb down from that high horse you’ve propped yourself up onto. The shine from your head is blinding!

          In the meantime consider actually considering another’s opinion. Your elitist pedantry offers nothing.

          Freedom v Liberty. All that matters is how the public at large interprets them (Academicians need not apply to assist in this manner). And how the contract between the people and those chosen to represent the people as an empowered government act on and creat public policy and law based on the common sense understanding of the least of free people – the nuances of differences in some word meaning and origins or Sausesserian linguistics notwithstanding as they are irrelevant! (Frankl was making a point about our internal lives and how we are free to choose our own responses – internally! – and would not have appreciated his words being usurped in a way that bastardizes for other purposes).
          Academicians can enjoy, well, academia. The rest of us have actual work to do. Regards.

    • Freedom FROM: (restraint)

      Liberty To : (make and act upon own decisions)

    • “This is the social contract.” I have never seen, much less signed, such a contract.

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

      No. Don’t conflate “freedom” with benefits.

  2. Freedom defined as unrestricted, the power of self determination; as so written in the Oxford true english dictionary revised 2nd ed.
    Liberty defined as freedom from captivity, imprisonment, slavery, or despotic control. the right or power to do as one pleases. just regurgitating info that someone else is to lazy to look up themselves. a very good example of liberty vs freedom. IxO

  3. FREEDOM is the inalienable right of choice between alternatives within the individual’s mental capacity and physical capabilities.

    LIBERTY is the absence of restrictions that limit the scope of choices that are within the individual’s mental capacity and physical capabilities.

  4. The meaning of words evolves as our understanding progresses. Cultures develop vocabulary to convey ideas. In my opinion, there are not too many words in the English language, but not nearly enough. The Dictionary format is is convenient to elementary education, but it is limited to brief descriptions of words sometimes used to describe boundless or powerful ideas. I do not believe that vast realm of knowledge or even the little bit of it that academia has documented lends itself well to such limitations.

    After surviving some of the worst Nazi concentration camps, Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In it, he wrote about the importance between the difference between the words freedom and liberty. He conveyed that we can choose our response regardless of what happens to us in life. That while the Nazi guards charged with guarding him had more liberty, he had more freedom, which he saw as the intrinsic power to decide how he responded to what they, and the environment to which he was confined, did to him.

    Through the application of this principle, Frankl inspired and motivated his fellow prisoners and eventually even his captors. On the basis of Frankl’s masterful work, I would argue that the difference between these two words is indeed important. Dr Stephen R. Covey based the foundational “first habit” (Be Proactive) of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Frankl’s definition and Pavlov’s stimulus-response model. This book was the driving force behind the quality movement and the attempt of businessmen to restore character and ethics to business. Countless businesses have used this model to return to their roots in the character ethic and reverse their post-WWII abandonment of it in favor of “social asprin and Band-aids” of the personality ethic and the “social-service ethic of blaming everything on the system.”

    So does it matter? It certainly matters to me. Unfortunately, it appears to matter less and less all the time as so many condition themselves to an ever-decreasing attention span, absorbing ideas in sound bites, tweets and posts instead of reading books.

  5. (My mail host is just ‘incidental’)
    Hello everybody,
    The main difference is between the ‘group’ liberty/freedom, which shows status or/and aim, and ‘deliverance’, e.g. ‘from slavery’, which shows action or hope for action to come.

  6. The very specific difference between Liberty and freedom is simple. Liberty is rules and regulations a group of individual,s who swear an oath to, promise to keep and uphold. Freedom is the right to do whatever you like, however you like, whenever you like, wherever you like. America has Liberty, we created the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. These are the rules and regulations we all swear an oath to, and promise to keep and uphold. We are not free to do as we like.

    • What you said may be true , but how can you prove your definition is the correct one ? The reason I like it is, unlike all the other definitions I have been reading, yours is easy to understand,has definite borders that eliminates confusion and doubt . The other definitions are too complex to be sure of their meaning and seem to be contradictory. My only question is: how do we know yours is the correct one?

  7. 2012-2017 and we still cant come to an agreement to whats the different between Liberty & Freedom. Sounds just like America in general.

  8. While “freedom” is considered by most/many to be synonymous with “liberty” and perhaps “independence,” it is NOT synonymous with “privilege or deliverance.”

    “Privilege and deliverance” both imply something that is bestowed, granted, awarded or permitted by someone or something else.

  9. I respectfully disagree with Stuart on modern application of the words freedom and liberty. I think he has it backwards. The Navy helps explain it using opposite applications. A sailor making a port call may be fortunate to get himself a 24 hour or 3 day pass to leave ship. Sailors call those “Liberty Passes” and a sailor with a pass is able to do what he wants on his own time within the confines of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Naval Regulations–Liberty. A sailor who walks off that ship with discharge papers is not on liberty, but is free from the constraints imposed by the UCMJ and Navy regs–Freedom.

    • Hitchhiking on the coach’s remarks. The sailor may think he has the freedom to leave the ship whenever he wants. Wrong. When he gets pulled back (because he did not have orders to leave the ship, or given ‘liberty’ to do so) he has lost the ‘freedom’ he never had in the first place.

      Some one else grants him liberty. Freedom is what he has, within the limits his society may have put around it (i.e. . UCMJ or Navy Regs)

      Not in the Navy? Some one else (parents, boss, older brother/sister, etc.) might also put limits around your ‘freedom.’ Or less friendly people might restrain you, too. Within those limits, you may have some liberty.

  10. What I’ll say is that they are largely synonymous with Liberty from Romance root and Freedom from Germanic root. The subtle distinctions in English have to do with historical differences similar to why English has pig/pork, cow/beef distinctions.

    Generally I would say that because the Norman ruling class in England were more involved in law and politics, Liberty is much more political concept as opposed to Freedom which can refer to everyday freedoms such as one’s leg having ‘freedom’ from being stuck in the snow or something like that. I’m sure that some authors have laid out specific definitions (usually in the format of ‘freedom from’ or ‘freedom to’) to either word and would disagree with each other because they use the opposite definition. There are philosophical concepts of freedom/liberty which put unfair pressure on either word because free/liber mean the same thing and freedom/liberty mean the ‘state of being free/liber’. Whether that is a right or privilege is philosophical not etymological. It doesn’t help that the English word ‘free’ also means ‘gratis’ as well as ‘liber’.

  11. I’d like to thank all you for your comments. Being from another country, it’s difficult to see the difference between these two words. Besides, it’s useful to learn about various opinions on this topic.

  12. No, Freedom and liberty are not synonyms.

    Liberty is a privilege offered to a select few allowing them to be unmolested by civil authorities regardless of their behavior.

    Freedom is the inherent human right to ‘do as you will ‘ere it harm none’.

    Liberty is what the slave-owners had. Freedom is what the slaves were denied.


  13. It’s a good thing that “Both Liberty and Freedom are synonyms” – because if only one of them were a synonym, we’d be in trouble!

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about : ,
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder