liberal arts

liberal arts

noun
1.
the academic course of instruction at a college intended to provide general knowledge and comprising the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, as opposed to professional or technical subjects.
2.
(during the Middle Ages) studies comprising the quadrivium and trivium, including arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

Origin:
1745–55; translation of Latin artēs līberālēs works befitting a free man

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
liberal arts
 
pl n
Often shortened to: arts the fine arts, humanities, sociology, languages, and literature

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

liberal arts
late 14c., translating L. 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 -- and the quadrivium -- arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

liberal arts definition


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.

liberal arts definition


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.

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