At liberty

liberty

[lib-er-tee]
noun, plural liberties.
1.
freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2.
freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3.
freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
4.
freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint: The prisoner soon regained his liberty.
5.
permission granted to a sailor, especially in the navy, to go ashore.
6.
freedom or right to frequent or use a place: The visitors were given the liberty of the city.
7.
unwarranted or impertinent freedom in action or speech, or a form or instance of it: to take liberties.
8.
a female figure personifying freedom from despotism.
Idioms
9.
at liberty,
a.
free from captivity or restraint.
b.
unemployed; out of work.
c.
free to do or be as specified: You are at liberty to leave at any time during the meeting.

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English liberte < Middle French < Latin lībertās, equivalent to līber free + -tās -ty2


4. liberation. See freedom. 6. franchise, permission, license, privilege, immunity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
liberty (ˈlɪbətɪ)
 
n , pl -ties
1.  the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction
2.  the right or privilege of access to a particular place; freedom
3.  (often plural) a social action regarded as being familiar, forward, or improper
4.  (often plural) an action that is unauthorized or unwarranted in the circumstances: he took liberties with the translation
5.  a.  authorized leave granted to a sailor
 b.  (as modifier): liberty man; liberty boat
6.  at liberty free, unoccupied, or unrestricted
7.  take liberties to be overfamiliar or overpresumptuous (with)
8.  take the liberty to venture or presume (to do something)
 
[C14: from Old French liberté, from Latin lībertās, from līber free]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

liberty
late 14c., from O.Fr. liberté "freedom," from L. libertatem (nom. libertas) "freedom, condition of a freeman," from liber "free" (see liberal)
"The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure it is right." [Learned Hand, 1944]
Nautical sense of "leave of absence" is from 1758. To take liberties "go beyond the bounds of propriety" is from 1625. Sense of "privileges" led to sense of "a person's private land" (mid-15c.), which yielded sense in 18c. England and America of "a district within a county but having its own justice of the peace," and also "a district adjacent to a city and in some degree under its municipal jurisdiction" (e.g. Northern Liberties of Philadelphia).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

at liberty

Free, not obligated; also, not occupied. For example, I am not at liberty to tell you the whole story, or "I ... washed when there was a basin at liberty" (Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847). This idiom is often used in a negative context, as in the first example. [First half of 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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