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laissez faire

or laisser faire

[les-ey fair; French le-sey fer] /ˌlɛs eɪ ˈfɛər; French lɛ seɪ ˈfɛr/
the theory or system of government that upholds the autonomous character of the economic order, believing that government should intervene as little as possible in the direction of economic affairs.
the practice or doctrine of noninterference in the affairs of others, especially with reference to individual conduct or freedom of action.
Origin of laissez faire
1815-25; < French: literally, allow to act


or laisser-faire

[les-ey-fair; French le-sey-fer] /ˌlɛs eɪˈfɛər; French lɛ seɪˈfɛr/
of, relating to, or conforming to the principles or practices of laissez faire.
Related forms
laissez-faireism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for laissez faire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The bourgeoisie was the first to propagate the theory of laissez faire, of dishevelled individualism.

    Anarchism and Socialism George Plechanoff
  • But then we are attacked by the bitter enemies of laissez faire.

    Economic Sophisms Frederic Bastiat
  • In such matters the New Republic will entertain no superstition of laissez faire.

    Anticipations Herbert George Wells
  • Too strong a line might have worse consequences than a laissez faire attitude.

    Cynthia's Chauffeur Louis Tracy
  • That doctrine of laissez faire which so often in our history.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • For industrialism and speculation the State's guiding maxim was laissez faire.

    What is Coming? H. G. Wells
  • The Liverpool experiment showed the folly of laissez faire in a matter of this sort.

  • In his indolent way he had taken this belief on trust, the “laissez faire” policy being well in accordance with his easy nature.

  • The laissez faire system is as false in the realm of marriage as it is in industry and economics.

    Women's Wild Oats C. Gasquoine Hartley
British Dictionary definitions for laissez faire

laissez faire

/ˌlɛseɪ ˈfɛə; French lese fɛr/
  1. Also called individualism. the doctrine of unrestricted freedom in commerce, esp for private interests
  2. (as modifier): a laissez-faire economy
indifference or noninterference, esp in the affairs of others
Derived Forms
laissez-faireism, laisser-faireism, noun
Word Origin
French, literally: let (them) act
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for laissez faire


laissez faire, 1822, French, literally "let (people) do (as they think best)," from laissez, imperative of laisser "to let, to leave" (from Latin laxare, from laxus "loose;" see lax) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere; see factitious). From the phrase laissez faire et laissez passer, motto of certain 18c. French economists, chosen to express the ideal of government non-interference in business and industry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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laissez faire in Culture
laissez-faire [(les-ay-fair, lay-zay-fair)]

French for “Let (people) do (as they choose).” It describes a system or point of view that opposes regulation or interference by the government in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary to allow the free enterprise system to operate according to its own laws.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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