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late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, not immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical). They were divided into the trivium -- grammar, logic, rhetoric (cf. trivial) -- and the quadrivium -- arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.
The areas of learning that cultivate general intellectual ability rather than technical or professional skills. The term liberal arts is often used as a synonym for humanities, although the liberal arts also include the sciences. The word liberal comes from the Latin liberalis, meaning suitable for a free man, as opposed to a slave.
The areas of learning that cultivate general intellectual ability rather than technical or professional skills. Liberal arts is often used as a synonym for humanities, because literature, languages, history, and philosophy are often considered the primary subjects of the liberal arts. The term liberal arts originally meant arts suitable for free people (libri in Latin) but not for slaves.