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definition of the word libertarian

by the Wiktionnary

From French libertaire, formed from liberté (freedom), from Latin libertas and the suffix -aire, from Latin -arius.

First appeared in English in 1789 by William Belsham, in his Essays. This was contrasted with necessitarian, in the context of free will, and was not used in the current sense.

The French word is first attested in a letter in May 1857 by French anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque to anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, reading:[1]

“Anarchiste juste-milieu, libéral et non LIBERTAIRE…”

In translation:

“A centrist anarchist, liberal and not LIBERTARIAN…”

hence the sense is of “extreme left-wing”.

The French term was popularized as a euphemism for anarchist in the 1890s, following the lois scélérates, when anarchist publications were banned by law in France.

The sense of “pro-property individualist” developed in the US in the 1940s, and was popularized in the 1950s. In the 1940s, Leonard Read began calling himself “libertarian” to contrast with “classical liberal”.[2] In 1955, Dean Russell also promoted use of the word, writing: “Let those of us who love liberty trademark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word ‘libertarian’.”[3]



libertarian (plural libertarians)

  1. One who advocates liberty either generally or on a specific issue, e.g. "civil libertarian" (in favour of civil liberties).
  2. (Chiefly US) A believer in a political doctrine that emphasises individual liberty and a lack of governmental regulation and oversight both in matters of the economy ('free market') and in personal behavior where no one's rights are being violated or threatened. Also 'classical liberal', akin to 'anarcho-capitalist'.
  3. (Chiefly Europe) An anarchist, usually socialist or communist.
  4. In the philosophy branch of metaphysics, a believer in thinking beings' freedom to choose their own destiny, i.e. a believer in Free Will as opposed to those who believe the future is predetermined.
  5. (US)(prefixed to 'Republican'): a member of the Republican Party (especially a legislator) who emphasizes economic and Constitutional, rather than religious and personal, aspects of the party's platform.

libertarian (comparative more libertarian, superlative most libertarian)


more libertarian

most libertarian

  1. Relating to the beliefs of libertarians, as in, "He has libertarian views". A relative tendency towards liberty, as in "libertarian socialist".

Retrieved from "http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/libertarian"
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