The Grammarphobia Blog

“Liberty” vs. “freedom”

Q: Is there a difference between “liberty” and “freedom”?

A: I think of “liberty” as meaning free of controls or unrestrained. “Freedom,” to me, is the capacity to choose or to exercise free will. That said, many dictionaries often use similar definitions to describe both “liberty” and “freedom.” I’m sure that a great statesman at some time in history has come up with a much more eloquent description of the differences between the two. If I come across one, I’ll mention it on the air.